4 Fire and Life Safety Systems Every Food Truck Owner Needs

July 15 2021

4 Fire and Life Safety Systems Every Food Truck Owner Needs

The food truck industry is saturated with potential fire hazards that can quickly cause a fire to become unmanageable. Fire and life safety regulations are becoming more widespread and comprehensive as food trucks continue to grow in popularity.

To keep up with the rapidly growing industry, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has created new food truck fire safety requirements. Fire protection equipment on a food truck is now required to be properly inspected and maintained by experienced fire protection service providers. This includes the fire suppression and ventilation system and all fire extinguishers on the truck. Food truck operators need to be aware of these new regulations so they can proactively partner with an experienced fire protection company to procure the necessary equipment, stay in compliance, and ensure the safety of their customers, employees, and business investment.

As you learn more about the food truck fire systems to ensure compliance and safety, we strongly recommend downloading the following additional food truck fire and life safety tips to reference.

Related Resource

Related Resources

As you learn more about the food truck fire systems to ensure compliance and safety, we strongly recommend downloading the following additional food truck fire and life safety tips to reference.

How to Protect Food Trucks with the Right Fire and Life Safety Equipment

A food truck is no different than any other food establishment. In fact, the potential fire hazards look very similar to those found in commercial kitchens. Business owners that understand the fire risks they’re up against will be better positioned to proactively address these risks to avoid costly damage or human life. Here are some of the main fire hazards food truck owners may face:

  • Propane
  • Open flames
  • Hot equipment
  • Portable generators (gas and electric)
  • Cooking without proper fire suppression equipment
  • Cooking oils, splattered grease, and cleaning chemicals

Understanding food truck fire hazards is the first step in the multifaceted process of ensuring a successful operation. All fire and life safety equipment must be properly installed, regularly inspected, and consistently maintained by a professional fire protection service provider in order to stay compliant with NFPA code requirements. Here are the main fire and life safety systems food truck owners need to properly test and maintain to ensure regulatory compliance - and most importantly - the safety of their customers, employees, and business assets.

Fire Suppression System

The majority of local and state municipalities require food trucks to have a professionally installed fire suppression system. Some governments will take this requirement a step further and specifically require an automatic fire suppression system. An automatic fire suppression system rapidly detects fires and quickly shuts down the fuel or electric supply to nearby cooking equipment to prevent the fire from spreading further.

Since many food trucks work with cooking oils, propane, or compressed natural gas, it is imperative that food truck owners partner with a fire protection company that has the ability to design and install a kitchen fire suppression system tailored to alleviate the fire hazards unique to their operation. Industry best practice highly recommends food truck fire suppression systems be professionally inspected semi-annually to ensure proper functionality.

Fire Extinguishers

When it comes to fire extinguishers, there are two main types food truck owners need readily accessible: Class K and ABC fire extinguishers.

  • Class K - Fire extinguishers that are designed to put out fires caused by substances with high burn temperatures such as grease, fat, and cooking oil. Keep in mind that Class K fire extinguishers should only be deployed after the activation of an integrated kitchen hood suppression system.
  • ABC fire extinguishers - Often overlooked, fire truck owners also need a versatile ABC fire extinguisher to handle all other types of fires including paper, wood, plastic, electrical, and more commonplace hazards.
Dig Deeper

Dig Deeper

Download The Ultimate Guide to Fire Extinguishers

Learn about the maintenance schedule and inspection process to upkeep fire extinguishers and maintain compliance. Learn More →

Ventilation Systems

The need for efficient ventilation systems is accentuated more for food trucks than any other food establishment due to limited space. Space limitations cause smoke and vapor to build more rapidly, which can quickly make an environment uninhabitable. A proper food truck ventilation system will help mitigate smoke build-up and dispel hazardous oil and grease particles that could lead to a fire.

Like other fire and life safety equipment in food trucks, ventilation systems need to adhere to local and state regulations. The NFPA requires all frequently used food trucks to receive ventilation system inspections on a quarterly basis at a minimum. Food trucks should partner with a kitchen exhaust specialist to perform more frequent inspections and routine cleaning to ensure functionality, compliance, and safety.

Continual Employee Training

While not considered a fire and life safety system in the traditional sense, a food truck’s employees can be the most effective fire hazard deterrent, if, and only if, proactive training is conducted. Food truck fire and life safety training should be conducted each year to keep employees up to date on the fire prevention and suppression best practices. A robust employee training program should cover:

  • The emergency procedure for notifying the local fire department
  • The different types of fire extinguishers and the types of fires they suppress
  • How to properly and effectively use the specific fire extinguishers in the food truck
  • How to manually turn off fuel sources and safely refuel as needed

Put Food Truck Fire Hazards in Your Rearview Mirror

Food truck owners and operators must stay vigilant and resist falling victim to the “set it and forget it” mentality. It is not enough to simply procure fire and life safety equipment and call it a day. Similar to the fire and life safety systems you may have in your brick and mortar location, food truck equipment must be professionally inspected and maintained by experienced fire protection service providers in order to consistently ensure functionality and regulatory compliance.

Keep in mind that as you travel, you are responsible for adhering to the varying codes and regulations of each location you operate in. For any NFPA code compliance questions, our fire and life safety specialists are available 24/7/365.

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