We’ll be looking at the causes of food truck fires and how food truck managers can keep their employees and kitchen safe from fire disasters.
A grease fire typically occurs when cooking oil becomes too hot. When heating, oils first start to boil, then it starts smoking, and then it will catch on fire. Most vegetable oils have a smoking point around 450°F, while animal fats, like lard, will start smoking around 375°F.
What Causes A Deep Fryer Fire?
Open fryers are particularly susceptible to poor mechanical maintenance. Usually, cooking temperature for deep fryer vegetable oil is about 375°F. Thermostat malfunction is a primary cause for deep fryer fires in commercial kitchens. If a thermostat malfunctions, cooking temperatures can rise. At 424°F oil starts to smoke. Smoke production will increase as the temperature rises.
Auto-ignition takes place at approximately 523°F to 788°F, depending on the type of oil, the number of impurities in it and usage. New “high-temperature” fryers are designed to maintain the heat of the oil longer and cook at higher temperatures, making these units a more significant fire risk.
In nearly all fryer designs, the gas exhaust vent for the heat from the burner elements goes up the back of the unit behind the vat. With repeated splashing, a substantial coating of grease can build up and harden on top of and around this exhaust stack.
NFPA 96 requires a clearance of at least 16 inches between fryers and any open flame burners. An 8-inch metal or tempered glass panel can be used to achieve this clearance. If this clearance is not met, open flames can ignite the cooking oil.
What to do if a deep fryer fire does break out?
- Turn the heat off and do not try to move the fryer. You might accidentally splash the burning oil.
- Cover the fryer with a metal lid. Fire cannot exist without oxygen. With the lid on and the heat off, the fire should quickly consume all the oxygen and put itself out.
- Pour on baking soda. Baking soda will extinguish grease fires, but only if they are small. It takes a lot of baking soda to do the job.
Regular cleaning and maintenance is the best way to reduce the chance of grease fires in a food truck. With SuperSorb® Carbon Pads, your oil will stay cleaner longer and reduce the need to clean your deep fryer oil often.