MURFREESBORO, TN - On Monday morning, firefighters with the Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue Department along with Murfreesboro Police, showed up in full force at the McDonald's on Southeast Broad Street next to the South Church Street intersection. For those who drove by, you likely noticed the first responder presence and that workers and customers had to be evacuated from the fast food eatery and wondered, “What was going on?”
The call to the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center was made just before 8:40, Monday morning. Apparently, a grease fire that started-out small began to grow and workers had to call the emergency line for assistance. Preliminary reports indicate the fire sprinkler system failed to extinguish the fire when the flames rose.
While details of the small kitchen fire at McDonald's have not been released, this maybe a good time to remind listeners about one of the many reasons a fire suppression system can fail in the kitchen. When cooking things like sausage, bacon or hamburgers, the fat from the meat melts away and leaves behind an oily, sticky residue. That substance will turn to vapor and be sucked-up by an exhaust fan under the vent hood. However, some of those oily vapors will not make it to the vent and instead rise into the fire sprinkler head. After the vapor cools it turns into a substance known as grease. Over time, that grease can clog the sprinkler head, thus wiping away the ability for the sprinkler to properly detect the presence of heat. This can lead to a delayed start of the sprinkler or can cause the sprinkler to fail altogether. This can be especially true in older sprinkler systems.
Newer chefs in the kitchen often fail to realize that grease can cake onto a sprinkler head, especially if they can't fully see the sprinkler head because of a low-lying hood over the stove-top or deep-fryer. In other words, always check your sprinkler system to ensure it's not clogged by grease or any other substance for that matter.
As for the McDonald's on Southeast Broad at South Church Street, no one was seriously injured in the small blaze that was extinguished when fire crews arrived. Reports indicate after fire crews gave the all-clear, workers and customers were allowed to re-enter the establishment and McDonald's was able to re-open.