One of the newest and most popular trends in food service today is food trucks. According to recent studies, the food truck sector in the United States has grown to a value of over 1.5 billion in 2022 and is projected to rise by an additional $200 million by 2024.
The number of food trucks that are now prowling American city streets is a subject of much debate. One thing is for sure, though: food truck owners and the patrons they serve face serious risks due to the particular fire risk this quickly expanding business provides.
Assess Your Risks
Apart from the standard hazards, a fire truck has to deal with some significant risks. They can happen due to portable generators, propane, or cooking without proper equipment. These risks apply to any vehicle that operates on gasoline or diesel fuel.
Perhaps the biggest fire hazard in a food truck is propane. The NFPA estimates that around 68% of food truck fires are caused by propane leaks or structural failures. Propane explosions have been the cause of almost all instances in the last four years that have resulted in injuries and fatalities.
The fact that food trucks are often in motion and go over potholes that can loosen propane tank fittings and connections or result in other structural damage is one of the issues. Leaks in propane can occur from regular shaking of the tanks and improper fitting tightening while changing tanks.
Food trucks’ reliance on portable generators to meet their electrical requirements poses a danger of fire. When compared to more recent food trucks that are designed for culinary operations, these dangers are often higher in cars that have been transformed into food trucks.
Carbon monoxide can be produced in older food trucks and cars that have been converted into food trucks by improperly vented generators or the electrical system itself. In a location as tiny as a food truck, many lack the appropriate storage needed to store the gasoline needed to power the generator securely away from sources of fire.
Not Using Fire Suppression Systems While Cooking
In industrial kitchens, hood suppression systems above burners, ovens, grills, and fryers have long been mandatory. However, older food trucks or cars that have been transformed into mobile kitchens cannot have hood suppression systems.
Though most food truck operators carry portable fire extinguishers, they frequently don’t realize that they need two types to put out the kinds of fires they are likely to encounter: an ABC extinguisher that can put out fires involving paper, like napkins, food wrappers, and other types of fires, and a Class K extinguisher that is meant to put out fires caused by grease, fat, or cooking oil.
To Save Your Life, Protect Your Truck
Being proactive in addressing the fire hazards in your food truck industry can help avoid the complete loss of your investment and potentially your life, even if the rules in your region are behind schedule.
The following actions can be taken right now to increase the safety of your operation:
- Fit your food truck with an automated fire suppression system that has a manual switch, and have it examined by a professional every six months.
- Carry portable fire extinguishers, such as a Class ABC extinguisher for various kinds of fires and a Class K extinguisher for grease fires, on board.
- It is advisable to get your propane tanks and fire extinguishers checked and branded with the testing date to make sure there is no impact to their operation.
- Perform routine maintenance and inspections on your electrical equipment to spot potential risks including frayed cables or wiring, damaged or cracked switch plates, and flammable objects close to power sources.
- Have grease build-up in your food truck’s kitchen exhaust system examined on a regular basis. The amount and kind of cooking you undertake in your company will determine how often you do inspections, as outlined in NFPA 96.