My grandfather was a New York City fireman. When I was little I had many birthday parties at the firehouse. My friends and I would meet all of the guys, we’d get to wear the helmets and pour into the giant rubber boots and, of course, get to sit in the fire truck, which was the best part. Obviously I looked up to my grandfather, and when anyone asked me, “what do you want to do when you grow up?” I would say, “Be a fireman like grandpa.” That is why when I read about the fireman from Chicago who died recently while fighting a restaurant fire, I was particularly struck. He was fighting a grease fire that began at a grill in the kitchen and moved through the grease-chute and onto the roof. There it ignited with pooling grease, turning into a fast moving and deadly blaze. Fires are tragic, but, more often than not, avoidable if proper precautions are taken. Take a moment to research this and you will see varying statistics reporting from 5,000 – 10,000 restaurant fires reported nationwide every year resulting in 80 to 150 million dollars of property loss. These are staggering numbers, but most importantly and somewhat overlooked, are the firefighters who get called to fight these fires; men who run into a building full of grease that spreads fire quickly and burns much hotter than a typical structure blaze, resulting in an exponentially more dangerous and, all too often, a deadly fire.
Before I began working with Impact Absorbents and was exposed to the causes and solutions for restaurant exhaust grease, I had no idea how serious this was. Being a representative of products that can be used to help prevent this type of issue, I am always surprised by how few businesses take this seriously. Sadly it only takes a few hundred dollars and a minor maintenance commitment to greatly decrease these dangers. If a roof has grease damage, it is in violation of insurance requirements, OSHA standards, and fire codes. Unfortunately, the enforcement is intermittent and not always kept up. Hopefully we in the business can educate our customers and persuade them to make a few simple additions to their rooftop exhaust systems and help make a significant improvement in their safety.