Food trucks have been gaining popularity in recent years, and until recently, there were no NFPA codes, standards, or guidelines to provide the minimum fire safety requirements. After the 2014 Philadelphia food truck explosion killed a mother and daughter, the International Fire Marshals Association (IFMA) developed a task group to address this issue and submitted public input to NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations, and NFPA 1, Fire Code.
In February, the 2017 edition of NFPA 96 was released. This edition now addresses the minimum fire safety requirements for mobile/temporary cooking in new Annex Chapter B. The purpose of placing the language in a normative annex was to allow for the jurisdictions who do not currently adopt/enforce NFPA 96 to adopt solely this normative annex (without having to adopt the rest of NFPA 96) if that jurisdiction wanted to address mobile/temporary cooking specifically.
Latest update on NFPA 1
NFPA 1 is currently in the revision cycle process for the development of the 2018 edition of the Code. The Second Draft Report is posted and allows the public the opportunity to view the language the Technical Committee developed for Mobile and Temporary Cooking Operations. See Section 50.7. Official language will be ready by the end of the summer in 2017.
So, what is currently being done to address the fire hazards on food trucks?
Just like any jurisdiction, each one has its own set of requirements. For example, on one end of the spectrum, the City of Rochester, NY requires at all mobile food vehicles with propane to have at least one person trained in handling and exchanging propane tanks on board at all times. This person must complete a fire safety course provided by the Rochester Fire Department to be certified. On the other side of that spectrum, in Indiana, state law bans fire departments from even inspecting food trucks, because they are considered vehicles.
You want to see your jurisdiction’s fire safety requirements for food trucks on NFPA’s website? Submit your jurisdiction and information.
- NFPA podcast on mobile food trucks
NFPA Journal's Jesse Roman speaks to Jacqueline Wilmot, NFPA's Staff Liaison for NFPA 96
- NFPA Journal article - "All Up in Our Grill"
by Jesse Roman, May/June 2015
- Presentation from NFPA's 2015 Conference & Expo - Mobile Food Truck Regulation: Developing a Recipe for Success
Ronald Farr, Lead Regulatory Engineer, UL; R.T. Leicht, Chief Protection Specialist, State of Delaware; and Jacqueline Wilmot, NFPA Fire Protection Engineer
- WTCM radio interview in Traverse City, MI - Discussion of food trucks, and the standards of safety NFPA is working to create around these mobile eateries
Meredith Hawes, NFPA Public Education Regional Specialist, Jacqueline Wilmot, NFPA Fire Protection Engineer; and Chief Jim Tuller, Traverse City Fire Department
- City of Chicago fire safety permit consultant packet for mobile food vehicles (PDF, 459 KB)
- Food truck operation awareness flyer (PDF, 439 KB) - U.S. Department of Transportation
Requalification Guidance for Propane Cylinders (PDF, 316 KB) - U.S. Department of Transportation
In this video, National Geographic® talks about the growing popularity of food trucks.
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