These requirements are enforced locally and across the country, and come from the International Fire Code and NFPA standards.
The term “mobile food vendor” includes enclosed trucks, vans, pull-behind trailers and push carts. Anyone wishing to operate as a mobile food vendor must first obtain a business license from the municipal government. In addition to the business license, each mobile food vendor who uses a fuel source and/or cooks anything that produces greasy vapors, such as hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, burritos, etc., must be inspected and permitted by a fire inspector employed by an authorized fire department in Colorado. Examples of a fuel source that might be associated with a mobile food vendor can include, but may not be limited to, a generator, charcoal, wood-burning stove, or a propane container. Additionally, all cooking that produces greasy vapors must have a Type I kitchen hood with an automatic fire suppression system.
Front Range Fire Rescue collaborates with the inspection programs of all recognized fire departments in Colorado, and with the Fire Marshals Association of Colorado. When a mobile vendor obtains a fire permit from a participating fire department, they must keep that permit with them at all times while operating their business. If you already have that permit, and it is dated within the past 12 months, you do not need another permit from Front Range Fire Rescue; however, we may still inspect your operation to ensure it is being operated safely.
Why do you need to have a fire district permit?
Mobile vendors, or “food trucks” as they’re commonly called, usually have fryers, griddles, ranges, grills and appliances fueled by propane or gas generators. Leaking flammable vapors can result in fires or explosions, injuring not only the food truck operators but also customers and other people in the area.
In 2014, a food truck explosion in Philadelphia was caused by leaking propane. The blast killed the two occupants of the truck and injured 11 nearby customers and pedestrians. The explosion was caught on security camera. Check out the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vem3kYD8uM. We don’t want something like this to happen in our community. By following the fire code requirements and keeping up with the inspection and permitting requirements, you are helping to reduce the risk of this happening to your food truck.
What is required to obtain a permit to operate a food truck?
View the pre-inspection checklist that has been put together by the Fire Marshals Association of Colorado. Use this checklist to look through your truck. Once you are certain you have everything in place, please contact your local fire department to request an inspection. If you need FRFR to complete the inspection, please give us a call at 970-587-4464. We will very likely ask you to email us pictures of the inside and outside of your truck, plus a clear drawing that shows the interior layout. You can send all of these by email to Plans@FRFR.co.
Safety Information for Mobile Food Vendors
Commercial cooking operations can pose a fire-safety risk due to the combination of heat, fuel, electricity and the production of greasy vapors. In order to increase the safety of cooking operations in mobile food vendors, Loveland Fire Rescue Authority (LFRA) recommends that all staff undergo the following training.
- Store cooking oils properly: Keep cooking oils in their original containers or puncture-resistant, tightly sealed containers that are labeled. Store containers in well-ventilated areas and away from combustible supplies (paper, plastic, wood), food, food preparation areas and any flame sources.
- Practice good housekeeping: Store paper products, linens, boxes and food away from heat and cooking appliances. Properly dispose of soiled rags, trash, cardboard boxes and wooden pallets at least once a day.
- Remove grease: Exhaust hoods must be cleaned regularly (at least as often as recommended by the manufacturer), as grease buildup can restrict airflow and can cause or accelerate a fire. Clean all vents and filters, interior walls and work surfaces (ranges, fryers, broilers, grills and ovens).
- Discard ashes: Remove ashes from wood-burning or charcoal ovens at least once daily. Dispose of them properly by putting them in metal containers that do not contain combustible debris and have lids than can be closed securely.
- Use chemicals properly: Chemicals should be used in a well-ventilated area and mix chemicals only if it’s their intended use
If an Emergency Occurs
- Never put water on a grease fire: Water thrown on a grease fire will cause the grease to splatter and likely spread the fire.
- Learn how to use portable fire extinguishers: All mobile food vendors operating within the City of Loveland are required to install at least one Class ABC dry chemical fire extinguisher in the cooking area, and cooking operations that produce greasy vapors must have a Class K extinguisher. All employees must be familiar with the location of the fire extinguisher and how to use it. There are many internet websites that offer training, such as www.fireextinguishertraining.com.
- Prepare an emergency plan: If a fire breaks out in the food truck, staff must take control of the situation. All employees must exit the vehicle and lead customers to a location a safe distance away. Have a written plan and practice it periodically with any of your employees who will be working with you in or near the truck.
- Shut down: In the event of an emergency, one of the most important things that might prevent greater harm is to shut down any fuel supplies. Staff members must be trained in how to quickly and safely shut off propane and electrical power in the event of an emergency.