Canadian Underwriter

Restaurant fires and how they are caused

June 30, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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Kitchen exhaust and gas connections should be near the top of a restaurant client’s risk management agenda.

Improperly maintained kitchen exhaust systems are a common cause of restaurant fires, wrote Larry Anderson, editor of, in a recent article.

This is because grease can accumulate in kitchen exhaust systems, Anderson suggested in Preventing Restaurant Fires Requires Maintenance And Technology. There is a risk that when hot smoke and steam passes through the ventilation system, this can cause grease to ignite.

“Grease traps should be properly emptied and cleaned or they will catch fire,” Anderson wrote.

Kitchen fires are just one source of attritional losses that commercial underwriters are noticing in the hospitality industry, said Gary Hirst, CEO of managing general agent CHES Special Risk, in an earlier interview.

Hirst was commenting in the context of the difficulties some hospitality clients – such as restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, motels, and event venues – are having in finding insurance at affordable rates.

When CHES gets an application from a broker for a restaurant or nightclub, CHES often retains an engineer to inspect the premises.

“Nine times out of 10, what we find is [that] there are four or five urgent recommendations that the inspectors are finding,” including lack of annual fire inspections, Hirst said at the time.

Gas leaks or malfunctions due to poor maintenance are one common cause of restaurant fires, Anderson wrote in

“Not as common, but also a culprit of fire losses are fires caused by inadequate use of deep fryers or large cooking pans, and faulty cooking equipment such as pressure cookers.”

Quoting the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Fire Incident Reporting System, Anderson reported that nearly two-thirds (64%) of restaurant fires are related to cooking. Heating and electrical malfunction each accounted for an additional 7% of incidents.

Other causes of restaurant fires include careless and unintentional actions (4%), appliances (4%) and other heat (3%). Several other categories, each of which represents less than 3%, collectively accounted for the remaining 23% of restaurant fires, Anderson wrote.

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1 Comment » for Restaurant fires and how they are caused
  1. Barry Jones says:

    Full understanding of Catering Kitchens including Gas and Fire Suppression,Ventilation Systems can be obtained by downloading a very informative booklet called DW/171

    As a former Industrial Gas Engineer this standard was our bible.

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