So there I was, sitting at work towards the end of another mind numbing day at the office just sorta clock watching when I was notified that I had an e-mail from a friend of mine. Usually any e-mails we exchange are in the form of jokes or interesting articles we might have come across during the day so since I had about a half an hour to kill I decided to open it up and see what he had to say.
Imagine my surprise when I did just that and instead of finding anything interesting or amusing I was greeted with the following words :
”The J’s is on fire!”
For those of you who don’t know me, The J’s is the nickname bestowed upon my local watering hole that is formally known as “Patrick J’s”.
I’ve been going there on a consistent basis for the last 15 or 16 years and throughout those years have made many a friend and passing acquaintance. It’s been the source of memories that were either good, bad, embarrassing, thought provoking and heart warming. Over the years, the regulars there have sort of formed an extended family and it’s the place we go to watch sporting events, celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and mourn together in times of death. The only gap in the years when the place was closed for an extended period of time was when a fire truck lost control and plowed into the place. Many of us felt a sense of homelessness while it was closed for repairs.
But, on with the story…
My reply to him was succinct to say the least.
His reply provided little in the way of details :
”Yeah, there’s smoke coming out of the place and some firemen on the roof!”
Fearing for the safety of some of my friends and the employees who had served me throughout the years and helped usher me through some difficult times I quickly folded my tents and headed out the door not knowing what I would find. Would the place be a smoldering heap of ash or would it be intact? How much damage would there be and God forbid, was anybody hurt or killed?
As I made my turn on to High Street I was relieved that there were no ear blasting sirens going off, no flashing red lights or no gathering of spectators. In fact, the place looked quite normal. I made my way inside and started asking some questions. During that time the jukebox was playing some appropriate tunes such as "Burning Down The House" by the Talking Heads, "We Didn't Start The Fire by Billy Joel, "Fire On the Mountain" by the Grateful Dead, "Fire And Rain" by James Taylor and just about anything by the band Earth, Wind and Fire. We are, after all, a loving bunch.
It seems that one of the cooks who in our little circle jokingly goes by the nickname of “Chef Burnsalot” had left the stove unattended and a grease fire had started and began to spread pretty quickly. Despite the efforts of the staff to extinguish the blaze a call to 911 was in order and thanks to their quick response no lasting damage was incurred. The kitchen might be closed for a couple or days or so and much to my relief it will be business as usual in the coming days ahead.
Note to the one "regular" who ran out the door without paying his tab and almost knocking over a server in his effort to do so, expect to take your well deserved ration of shit for the next few weeks.
That little story got me to thinking, what does one do in the event a grease fire should occur in your home or place of work? Here’s what I found out.
While your first impulse is to throw water on it, never, never ever, throw water on a grease fire. Since grease is a liquid it will only cause it to splatter and possibly spread.
Instead, if it’s still rather small, try and cover the flames with a pan or lid and smother the damn thing. Try not to use glass because the heat might cause it shatter and spray shards around like shrapnel.
If you have some baking soda handy, you might try and douse it with that. Don’t use flour though. Flour is combustible and will only serve to fan the flames.
Do not, repeat, do not, try and carry the burning pan outside. Besides adding to the influx of oxygen, you’ll most likely slosh some of the burning liquid either on the ground or on yourself.
If you’re in the restaurant business and work in the kitchen, you’ll probably have access to a fire extinguisher. Hopefully it’s not water based and is what is known in the trade as a Class K. These are specifically designed to battle grease and other types of kitchen fires.
Worst case scenario, call 911 and leave it up to the pros before you find yourself either injured, dead or staring at a smoldering heap of ashes.
I hope you readers found this both entertaining and informative and if you're ever in the vicinity of Columbus, Ohio, feel free to look me up and we can tilt a few back. You know where to find me.
Update: Thanks to both user DonJamie and tanktop both of whom also recommended using a wet towel or blanket to cover the fire. If you have one handy, I'd also advise that you wring it out to get rid of the excess water before doing just that.