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Tips for preventing and responding deep fryer fires

According to statistics from the Taipei City Fire Department, deep fryer fires are the most common cause of cooking fires that have resulted in injuries and fatalities in the past three years in Taipei. Even with just 50 ml of oil, it might catch fire after heating for three minutes. Therefore, the best way to avoid deep fryer fires is to keep an eye on the cooking stove, and never leave cooking unattended.

There are many ways to prepare Chinese cuisine, such as frying, stir-frying, simmering, deep-frying, and roasting, and almost all of them involve using oil. During the cooking process, if the oil temperature is not monitored, it can overheat and begin to crack and smoke at around 260℃, then catch fire at 340 to 370 ℃. Hence, when the oil starts to crack and smoke, turn down or off the stove to avoid overheating and catching fires.

The Fire Department pointed out that there were 100 cases of oil fires in the past three years, resulting in three injuries. Among these cases, 64.6% occurred in commercial premises, and 31.3% occurred in residential areas. Improper response is the leading cause of injuries and deaths in deep fryer fires. When using water to extinguish oil fires, the water vaporizes instantly, expanding to 1700 times its original volume once it comes into contact with the hot oil surface, and can scald the person trying to put out the fire. Deep fryer fires can easily ignite surrounding objects or spread through the exhaust hood and pipe. Once the flames reach the exhaust hood and pipe, the fire can quickly escalate and potentially cause injuries or hinder the ability to evacuate safely.

The Taipei City Fire Department recommends people stay calm when facing deep fryer fires. If the fire is too large to be extinguished or difficult to approach, evacuate immediately and call 119. If the fire is still controllable, follow the steps to conduct initial firefighting: 

1. Pick up the lid and cover the stove from the body's direction to block the flames' continuous spread.

2. Turn off the stove and gas valve.

3. Cover the lid with a wet towel, and open it after it cools down. Don’t assume that the fire is out, and open the lid immediately after covering it. It may cause the fire to reignite.

In addition to the proper response, inspecting fire safety equipment regularly is essential. Business owners and employees should also conduct self-guard fire protection grouping to ensure they can respond calmly and correctly during a fire. Last, the Fire Department reminds the public to remember four cooking principles: keep an eye on the cooking stove, and never leave cooking unattended. Clean stoves periodically. Remove combustibles. Install fixed-temperature residential fire alarms, and choose stoves with safety devices and temperature sensors to prevent fires effectively and ensure home safety.



FSI lesson – Tips for preventing and responding to deep fryer fires