Break room kitchen safety

  • Published
  • By Tim Johnston
  • Fire inspector
Many facilities throughout Vandenberg have break rooms that are becoming small kitchens with cooking ranges to provide employees a place to prepare their lunches or to support squadron functions. Because these kitchens are becoming such a common place, it is important for all of us to apply the kitchen safety rules that we a have learned over the years to our organizations break rooms. The following safety tips will be a great review and ensure a safe work environment for years to come.

Break Room Kitchen safety tips

Pay attention when you cook! Most cooking fires occur because of unattended cooking. Stay in your break room when there is any type of cooking going on. Even if you must leave the break room for a short period of time, turn off the cooking range. When you are simmering, baking or roasting food, check regularly, when you are finished cooking, turn off all burners and ovens.


Read the manufacturer's instructions before you use a microwave oven. Plug the oven directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord for a micro wave - it can over load the circuit and cause a fire. Use only micro wave safe containers to heat food. Allow food to cool before you remove it from the oven and use an oven mitt.

Open food slowly. Hot steam escaping from the container can cause painful burns. Let food and liquid cool before you eat or drink it. Remember that while containers may feel warm; the contents may be very hot.

Never use aluminum foil or metal objects in a microwave oven. They can cause a fire or burn hazard and damage the oven. If you have a fire in your microwave, turn it off immediately, unplug microwave cord if possible and keep the door closed. Never open the door until the fire is completely out. Be cautious of toxic gases within the microwave due to the fire. If in doubt get out of the building and call the fire department.

Break Room Kitchen Fires

Gease fires

Always keep an oven mitt and lid nearby. If a small grease fire starts in a pan, your first action should be to turn off the burner. Next, smother the flames by carefully sliding the lid over the pan (make sure you are wearing the oven mitt). To keep the fire from restarting, keep the lid on the pan until it is completely cool. Remember to never pour water on a grease fire. If the fire does not go out, get out of the building and call the fire department.

Oven fires

Turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from burning you or your clothing. If the fire does not go out, get out of the building and call the fire department.

Fire Extinguishers

Know what type of fire your fire extinguisher will put out. Extinguisher capabilities are shown on their labels to avoid incidents. Learn how to use your extinguisher before a fire occurs. The Fire Prevention Office holds unit or group training on a regular basis for all base personnel. To acquire information on classroom and hands on training, call

Neat and Clean

Personnel should keep pot holders, oven mitts; wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels, and anything else that can burn away from your stovetop. Clean up food and grease from burners and the stovetop.

Countertop Safety

Use only one heat - producing appliance on the same electrical circuit or outlet at a time. Have ground fault circuit interrupters installed on the break room-counter outlets. Replace cracked or frayed appliance cords. If an appliance feels too hot, smokes or gives off an unusual odor unplug it immediately. Then have it serviced or replaced.

Base Fire Prevention Regulation

Base Fire Prevention Regulation - 30th Space Wing Instruction 32-102, chapter 10 is a great resource for managers and will help support enforcement of specific safety issues related to break rooms should they need validation.

Chapter 10 paragraph 10.4 - Do not use extension cords for permanent electrical wiring. When UL extension cords are used on a temporary basis, they will be equal to or larger than the cord of the appliance being serviced and equipped with only one male plug and not more than one female receptacle. Extension cords will not exceed the length needed to perform the required operation. Inspect frequently and keep in a safe condition. Gang receptacle boxes and power strips are not permitted without a circuit breaker.

Chapter 10 paragraph 10.7 - Do not over load electric circuits. Do not daisy - chain flexible chords or power strips.

Chapter 10 paragraph 10.15 - Disconnect all coffee makers, toasters, and other small appliances when not in use and before securing the building at the end of the work day. All appliances will be Underwriters Laboratories listed. These appliances will not be plugged into power strips or other extension cords; they will be plugged directly into the wall.

If you have any questions concerning this article or any question regarding fire safety please call the Fire Prevention Office at 606-4680.