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Fire and Rescue

Posted on: April 3, 2020

Restaurant Safety Considerations During COVID Shutdown

Fire Safety Restaurant Newsflash

During the public health emergency created by the COVID-19 outbreak, the Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office (FMO) wants to remind businesses, and especially restaurants, that scaling back or shutting down operations may expose the business to additional fire risk if certain precautions are not taken. 

For example, certain grease traps, Automatic Grease Interceptors (AGI) or Automatic Grease Recovery Units (AGRU) may have internal heating elements to keep the grease in a liquid state. The heaters require water to be in the system to prevent damage to the unit or to prevent potential fires. If the business is to be shut down for a period of time, it is critical that all restaurants or food preparation businesses with such systems closely follow the manufacturer’s recommended shut down procedures. For many of these units, it is recommended that water be run for at least three minutes before shutting down the equipment.  After running the water, the unit should be unplugged from the electricity to prevent the heating element from continuing to operate.  It may help to place a reminder on the unit in order to remember to re-energize the unit before returning to normal operations. 

In the event that the business will remain open, but at a reduced level of operation, it may be helpful to insure that water is run into the sink and the grease capture system regularly to protect the equipment and minimize fire risk.  It is always best to follow the manufacturer’s recommended procedures before shutting down operations or reducing the volume for which the system was designed.

grease traps

The Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office remains operational, however, on-site inspections are being conducted under limited conditions in alignment with social distancing measures. Please call the FMO at 703-737-8600 during regular business hours for NON-EMERGENT information or visit our website www.loudoun.gov/firemarshal.

For information regarding COVID-19 response and prevention in Loudoun County please visit www.loudoun.gov/coronavirus or call the COVID-19 hotline at 703-737-8300.


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