posted on Oct, 13 2019 @ 06:38 PM
You know, I thought it might be worthwhile to make a thread about fires in kitchens. It's something everyone who likes to cook should know about.
I think someone would have to be completely daft not to realize fires are dangerous. But fires in kitchens are REALLY dangerous! Like really,
REALLY, dangerous. There's a reason for this, and this is the point of the thread.
So, what I'm going to do is post this thread with some general information, and then add to it with technical data as it evolves. Now, as an
engineer, I could get into all sorts of technical stuff about fire, how it burns, what it burns and where, but I won't do that in the beginning. The
first thing I'm going to do it cut right to the chase about why kitchen fires are so much more dangerous than any other fire inside a structure.
The reason is:...the fuel for the fire doesn't go away. AND, neither does the source of ignition. So, kitchen fires spread exponentially faster
than any other fire.
When I was in college, I worked part-time for a wind, water and fire damage contractor (I was a finish carpenter). We were contracted by insurance
companies. The majority of the claims we worked on were fire damage, and the vast majority of those were centered around kitchen fires. I was
shocked how much damage they could do in just a few short minutes. Million dollar homes reduced to complete ash (we didn't restore those) in less
than 30 minutes. The fire departments would call them "fully involved", and most would just keep the fires from spreading to adjacent houses, not
put out the actual fire in the house. It's really that bad! And, that fast!
So why is this? Well, it has to do with what you've got going food you're cooking, and what fuel you're using. Again, I'll cut right to the
chase. If you really like to cook then you will eventually migrate to some form of gas (natural gas or propane). Frankly, it's the only way to
become a really good cook. However, when a fire starts on a gas stove, the source of the fuel doesn't go away...on the contrary, it becomes a blow
torch. And the fire expands exponentially, and very fast.
Now many of us cooks know we have to use fire now and then to accomplish certain culinary things. Fire in a pan is not a bad thing, but when that
fire spreads outside the pan onto surfaces around the cooking area it's a VERY bad thing! The trick is keeping the fire where you want it, and
preventing it from going where you don't want it.
An easy suggestion would be to keep a fire extinguisher handy in your kitchen. And, that's fine (you should always do this anyway), but there are
other ways which are better 1st lines of defense. Fire needs oxygen. Starve a fire of oxygen and it will go out. Blast a fire extinguisher and you
can plan on cleaning up your kitchen for weeks...if not months! So, the first thing is to remain calm, and try to take the easiest route to put a
Some people say throw flour on it. Flour works much the same way an ABC fire extinguisher does, it starves the fire for oxygen. You throw the flour
on the fire, it explodes and throws up a thick dust cloud of flour and the fire can't breathe.
As we all know, oil fires are the worst. Why? Because they flame, and they drip and run all over the place setting things like lacquer covered wood
floors and Formica countertop adhesives on fire. Now we've got a raging inferno in the kitchen. At this point, honestly, it's time to grab the
important stuff and GET OUT!! You won't put this fire out, no matter how many fire extinguishers you have.
But here's some things to help before you ever get to that point. Always remember to have a lid for a pan you will be cooking something over high
heat in. If you don't have a lid for said pot or pan, then grab a sheet pan (i.e. a cookie pan). Whether your fire is in the oven or the stove,
covering it will slow it down, if not extinguish it altogether.
Remember, fire needs fuel, oxygen and a medium for an accelerator. In a kitchen fire we can only control one of those ingredients...oxygen.
Now, I'm going to go take the jerky out of the smoker, and I hope this thread was helpful.
I'm glad to answer any questions people may have!
Great cooking to you~!