Information for Food Truck Vendors
What you need to know:
Jackson Hole Fire/EMS enforces the International Fire Code, which, as of 2018, includes requirements for Mobile Food Preparation Vehicles (Food Trucks). The code language can be found in Section 319 at this link: International Fire Code- public access
What does this mean?
If you intend to operate a Food Truck in Teton County, WY you are responsible for making certain all of your cooking, fuel systems and fire safety equipment are being serviced as required by the Fire Code. For the summer of 2020 we are allowing vendors to submit this form: Food Truck Permit Application where they may add their inspection information and acknowledge they understand the Fire Code Requirements. Should this department see an increase in violations, or food trucks operating without submitting this form, we will resume formal vehicle inspections by a Fire Inspector from Jackson Hole Fire/EMS.
Here are some great links to help you understand why Food trucks are now being enforced by the International Fire Code and how you can maintain your vehicle for your and your clients’ safety. And as always, you are welcome to call us at 307-733-4732 for more information.
10 common-sense tips for enhancing fire safety on food trucks
Adding food truck fire safety requirements to the NFPA model code makes adoption of enforceable code easier for local governments and fosters public safety. But if regulations aren’t in place within a jurisdiction, there are many commonsense steps food truck operators can take to prevent and mitigate fires:
- Schedule regular inspections and maintenance of electrical equipment and keep an eye out for hazards like frayed wires or combustible items near power sources.
- Train employees to never throw water on a grease fire. It can cause the grease to splatter and spread, making the fire worse. Class K fire extinguishers are best for fighting grease fires. Food trucks need two types of fire extinguishers: Class K extinguishers for fighting grease fires and Class ABC extinguishers for putting out standard fires, such as those involving paper products.
- Follow NFPA regulations for hydrostatically testing fire extinguishers and propane tanks. Make sure the equipment is stamped with the testing date to ensure it remains in proper working order.
- Regularly inspect kitchen exhaust systems within the truck for grease build-up. The frequency of inspections is defined in NFPA 96 (Annex B), based on the volume and type of cooking.
- Clean up grease at least once a day, concentrating on walls, work surfaces, ranges, fryers, broilers, grills, convection ovens, vents, and filters. Pay extra attention to exhaust hoods, where grease buildup can restrict air flow. NFPA 96 (Annex B) provides extensive instructions for cleaning food truck exhaust systems.
- Keep the food truck as tidy as possible to reduce fire hazards. Keep paper products, linens, boxes, and food away from heat and cooking sources. Properly dispose of soiled rags, trash, cardboard boxes, and wooden pallets at least once a day.
- Remove ashes from wood- and charcoal-burning ovens at least once a day. NFPA 96 (Annex B) provides extensive guidance for ash removal.
- At least one employee on every shift should know how to shut off propane and electrical power in case of an emergency. Also designate one worker per shift to act as an evacuation manager with duties that include calling 911, determining when an evacuation is necessary, ensuring that everyone exits the truck safely, and leading customers a safe distance away. Along those lines, ensure that everyone on your staff knows the location of all exits on the truck.
- Store flammable liquids in their original containers or other puncture-resistant, tightly sealed vessels. Food truck kitchens are small, but operators must do their best to store these liquids in well-ventilated areas away from combustible supplies, food, food preparation areas, or sources of flames.
- Use chemical solutions in well-ventilated areas and immediately clean up any spills. Never mix chemicals unless instructed by the manufacturer’s directions.
Fire Safety Basics: Fire Prevention
- Install an automatic fire-suppression system in the truck. Because 57% of food service business fires involve cooking equipment, most municipalities require this equipment to be installed. These systems automatically dispense chemicals to suppress the flames and also have a manual switch. Activating the system automatically shuts down the fuel or electric supply to nearby cooking equipment. Have your fire-suppression system professionally inspected semiannually. The manufacturer can refer you to an authorized distributor for inspection and maintenance.
- Keep portable fire extinguishers as a backup. Class K extinguishers are designed for kitchen fires involving grease, fats and oils that burn at high temperatures. Class K fire extinguishers are only intended to be used after the activation of a built-in hood suppression system. Keep Class ABC extinguishers elsewhere for all other fires (paper, wood, plastic, electrical, etc.).
- Schedule regular maintenance on electrical equipment, and watch for hazards like frayed cords or wiring, cracked or broken switch plates and combustible items near power sources.
- Have your exhaust system inspected for grease buildup. The NFPA Fire Code calls for quarterly inspections of systems in high-volume operations and semiannual inspections in moderate-volume operations. Monthly inspections are required for exhaust systems serving solid-fuel cooking equipment, like wood- or charcoal-burning ovens.
- Fire Safety Basics: Staff Training Train your food truck staff these fire safety basics:
- Find and use a fire extinguisher appropriately. An acronym you may find helpful is PAST – pull out the pin, aim at the base, make a sweeping motion, (be) ten feet away.
- Clean up the grease. Cleaning exhaust hoods is especially important, since grease buildup can restrict air flow. Be sure to also clean walls and work surfaces; ranges, fryers, broilers, grills and convection ovens; vents and filters.
- Never throw water on a grease fire. Water tossed into grease will cause grease to splatter, spread and likely erupt into a larger fire.
- Remove ashes from wood- and charcoal-burning ovens at least once a day.
- Store flammable liquids properly. Keep them in their original containers or puncture-resistant, tightly sealed containers. Although a food truck kitchen is very small, you should attempt to store containers in well-ventilated areas away from combustible supplies, food, food-preparation areas or any source of flames.
- Tidy up to avoid fire hazards. Store paper products, linens, boxes and food away from heat and cooking sources. Properly dispose of soiled rags, trash, cardboard boxes and wooden pallets at least once a day.
- Use chemical solutions properly. Use chemicals in well-ventilated areas, and never mix chemicals unless directions call for mixing. Immediately clean up chemical spills.
- Prepare An Emergency Plan If a fire breaks out in your food truck, your staff must take control of the situation and all employees must safely exit the vehicle and lead customers to a point safely away from the truck.
- Be prepared to power down. Train at least one worker per shift how to shut off propane and electrical power in case of emergency.
- Have an evacuation plan. Designate one staff member per shift to be evacuation manager. That person should be in charge of calling 911, determining when an evacuation is necessary and ensuring that everyone exits the food truck safely. Ensure your staff knows where all of the exits are.
- Offer emergency training. Teach new employees about evacuation procedures and the usage of fire-safety equipment. Give veteran staff members a refresher course at least annually.