According to NPFA, kitchen fires are the major cause of residential structural fires in the United States, and grease fire is the common kitchen fire type that wreaks havoc. Most people have no idea how to handle a grease or kitchen fire. A grease fire can flare up in seconds and burn down the entire house.
The first response to any fire breakout is to splash water on the fire, and this is what makes grease fire the most dangerous fire type. Unfortunately, attempting to extinguish grease fire using the normal methods can prove to be disastrous. Leaving the cooking pan on an active stove unattended is the common cause of grease fire. The oil particles in the pan or oven can easily overheat, and the grease catches fire. In the event of a grease fire, quick thinking, expertise, and applying the right strategies can play a critical role.
What not to do during a grease fire
Never pour water into a grease fire: The molecular properties of water and oil don’t allow them to mix. While splashing water onto a grease fire, the water droplets initially sink into the burning oil and get superheated; since water doesn’t mix with oil, the superheated molecules can erupt with a blast of flames.
Try to move the pan: trying to pick up the pan in flames is risky as it can cause the flaming grease to spill on the kitchen benchtop or the floor if not on you.
Use a wet towel: trying to smother a grease fire by throwing a wet towel on top is can also make things worse. During the act, you risk pulling the pan off the stove to the floor or on yourself.
Using water-based fire extinguisher: using a water-based fire extinguisher on a grease fire can have disastrous results.
How to react to a grease fire
- Turn the heat source off immediately and leave the pan or pot on the stove untouched
- Try to cut off the oxygen supply to the fire by covering the pan with a metal lid and ensure that you do not take off the lid at any point as the pan and boil would be still holding the heat and can lighten up as soon as it gets oxygen supply
- Use a dry chemical fire extinguisher to extinguish the fire, ensure that you aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire rather than on top of the flame
If the fire seems to be out of hand, ensure that you evacuate your house with your family and call 911
Importance of professional cleanup
A grease fire is unlike all the other fire types, and the fire soot, residue, and debris left behind are hard to clean. Cleaning up grease fire damage is better done with the help of a fire damage specialist.
A grease fire leaves a greasy residue which could be a combination of melted wood, plastic, and metal; this is notoriously difficult to clean. Considering the possible chemical compositions of the residue that is left behind from a grease fire, you can expect a strong odor. Addressing the overall situation requires a well sought-out cleaning and disinfecting plan backed up industry-grade tools and equipment such as HEPA-enabled filters, industry-grade chemicals, and power fans. A professional can also help you determine the impact of the fire and belongings that can be reused and the ones that need to go.
Another reason why you need professional assistance to clean up grease fire is the fact that professionals can help you identify the hidden damages. For instance, smoke and soot from a grease fire can find their way to the air ducts or filters and prove to be detrimental.
Be smart and foresee the dangers of addressing grease fires. Make it a point to not leave the cooking pan on the stove unattended and restrain from putting frozen foods onto hot grease. In case of a grease fire, stay calm and attempt the strategies listed above; if the situation seems to be out of hand, evacuate the property immediately.