You Make the Call – Stove Fire

You are assigned to a three person engine company dispatched to a reported kitchen fire in a restaurant.  On arrival you have light smoke showing and a manager advises you a cutting board is on fire on the stove top and that all employees and patrons have exited and are accounted for.

The building is 3 story type 5 with the top 2 floors residential.

Conditions inside are smoky but the kitchen area is visible from outside and only 20 feet inside the front door. It is open to the dining area, only a half wall separates the kitchen from the rest of the area.  You observe flame across 8 burners climbing 2-3 feet towards the vent.

 

All utilities, ventilation, search and other concerns are being handled by other responders.

 

Your selection of suppression devices is as follows:

1)Water extinguisher

2)CO2 extinguisher

3)150′ 1 3/4″ preconnect

4)1″ booster reel

 

Which do you choose and why?  You Make the Call.

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10 thoughts on “You Make the Call – Stove Fire”

  1. This is my district, so I’ve been in the restaurant before and know where the gas shut-off is for the stove. I twist the knob and then extinguish the cutting board with a water can. We would check the hood system for any extension and maybe even have the first due truck take a look at things on the roof — or wherever else the hood vents out to.

    The other option is to walk in, pull the pin on the hood suppression system and be done with it. However, the restaurant now has (insert type of fire suppression substance) all over the place and will be shut down. Our job is to protect life and property. I think that extends, to a certain degree, to the livelihood of our local businesses. So, if I can suppress a small fire without forcing them to close, I’ll take that route.

  2. I’m just a recruit with the FD, but my instinct would be to go from least invasive/destructive to most, 

    I’d get some guys to pull the 1 3/4″ and follow in right after me (in case my instinct is wrong). I’ll use a CO2 extinguisher if the size of the fire is controllable with a hand extinguisher.My thought process is: A) the water extinguisher has a risk of disturbing cooking oils and causing some kind of flare-up. B) I’ve never used a 1″ booster, so I’m not entirely sure what kind of option that is, my guess is between water extinguisher and 1 3/4″ line. C) Installed kitchen fire supression systems use a combination of dry powder and CO2 if I’m not mistaken… If the CO2 extinguisher doesn’t work, my guess is that the water extinguisher probably wouldn’t have worked either, and we’d need to go to the 1 3/4″.I wasn’t going to reply to this, but hey, nothing wagered, nothing gained. 

  3. And now for a different view point.
    I’ve been cooking professionally for fifteen years in restaurants, hotels (Lots of fun stories there), country clubs, and for a while now in the cafe at the world headquarters of a multinational agricultural/construction equipment manufacturer.  Started as a prep grunt made sous at my last club and then decided that normalish hours and a benefits package were too good to pass up. 

    All of the ANSUL hood suppression systems I’ve seen have been dry powder and it is a bitch to clean up.  Figure 48 hours before you can re-open.  If the hood system has been triggered, either automatically or by a pull station, the gas supply is already shut off so that’s not a concern. 

    Now if the hood hasn’t tripped…
    Kill the gas supply to the line. 
    If there is a largish pot sink at hand grab a set of tongs and dump the flaming board in the sink.  If not just go to the next step.
    Bend down and look in to the cook top at knob level.
    If all of the fire is confined to the burners and above use the water extinguisher.  If the fryer is near by it can be shielded with a large sheet pan.
    If the fire is burning in the accumulated grease and debris in the drip tray it should be pulled out and the CO2 extinguisher used. 

    If the flames are only 2-3 feet then the risk of extension into the hood system is minimal but having the truck company check it from the exhaust end isn’t a horrible idea.  Since it’s a mixed use building I would bet the hood exhausts are on the side of the building in the alley.  You should be able to check ‘em with a ground ladder and can cancel the truck if they’re not on scene yet.

    Set a ventilation fan in both the front and service doorways pushing air in and let the hoods clear it.  For a faster clear pull the grease screens from the hood.  The added greasing of the ducting won’t be significant and it’s probably due for a cleaning anyway.

    I assume the local health inspector is already enroute?  If not he should be called.  Might not make any friends with the owner/chef but that’s just too bad.  Any food stuffs that were exposed are gone.  Unless it was a wooden cutting board which are virtually extinct there is molten HDPE crap on every thing.

    The fact that this incident progressed to the point that you were even called just stupid.  Whichever idiot was on the line at the time is fired and the rest of the line dogs are going to be getting their asses chewed.  There are so many points where very simple action on their part could have stopped this at the level of minorly embarrassing.

    BGM

  4. Speaking from my purely rookie/probie viewpoint, i would pull the preconnect, because if there is a larger fire then reported or if it spreads, I have a hoseline. But I would imagine the correct choice would be the water or CO2 extinguisher.

    I worked as a line cook for 3 years, I don’t see why the kitchen staff wouldn’t of pulled the Asul or the ABC extinguisher that’s required to be on the line.

    ~Brad
    @EMTGoose:disqus

  5. I’m thinking C02.
     
    Water can is not a good answer, as the C02 can do the same work with less (no) damage.
     
    Booster line is not a good answer, because it will either be too much or not enough, depending on how things go.
     
    Considerations that could re-shape the plan:
     
    * I will be more comfortable taking the C02 if I know a backup 1.75″ will be stretched right away.
    * Interestingly, if the backup line will not be available right away, I might be inclined to go C02 anyway with even more hustle, to put a stop to events before the fire spread goes exponential.
    * I remember a neighbor agency nearly lost three FFs at a “simple” restaurant fire a few years ago when the accumulated greasy gunk on the ceiling and in the hood (which had leached out into the false ceiling over the years) all ignited more or less all at once, flashing the place over without much warning.  You didn’t tell us if this is Big Bob’s Greasy Spoon or A La Petite Chaise.  Construction type, building use, and tenant characteristics are all important considerations.
     
    C02.  Get in, get out, go back in service.  Let the place open for business again tomorrow afternoon.

    1. Good call on the possible accumulated crap in the ceiling.
      I started out in a hotel restaurant in a building that dated to the late 1800’s.  We shut down for a couple of days and did a real deep scrubbing on the joint.  (There was some sort of road construction if I recall so we weren’t going to be busy anyway.)  As the only person with any experience I was running the pressure washer hosing out the hoods and the built up gunk behind the fryers.  We moved all of the big stuff out to the conference room and replaced all the flex gas lines.  Anyhoo….while blasting out the hood I accidently blew out a drop ceiling tile.  Eww.  Twenty years of exposure had turned the tiles into DuraFlame logs. 

      That building would have to rank pretty high on the FF Nightmare Structure list.  Seven stories with a basement and sub basement, narrow stairwell, no standpipe, crawl spaces in weird places, multiple roof spaces.  An abandoned restaurant in the basement with walk-in coolers, restaurant and a bar on ground floor, offices on the mezzanine overlooking the lobby, ballroom, bar, catering kitchen, offices on 1st, small businesses including a tanning salon on 2nd, hotel rooms on 3 and 4, apartments on 5.  And the sub-basement had a door that connected to a tunnel that led in turn to a vaulted passage over a creek that ran under the street. 

  6. tweet out the intense new San Fran dining experience where in you suck down veal testicles and gluten-free beer while fire-fighters extinguish the smoldering vent fire and Michelin gives you both 3 stars ***   

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