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Propane

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San Antonio Inspection

SAN ANTONIO, TX - Health standards are a common concern for food truck connoisseurs but fire safety standards are an important issue too.

A food truck explosion in Philadelphia last week served as a sobering reminder of the dangers.

Locally, fire safety inspectors do what they can to help make sure food trucks are safe.

Once a year, food truck vendors like Frank Collazo are required to pass a health inspection and a fire safety inspection.

“I don’t do any cooking in my truck. I don’t even have kitchen space, but you have to get inspected the same as if you were,” said Collazo.

“There’s a checklist. There’s a number of things we look for (such as the presence of) fire extinguishers,” said Chris Monestier, deputy fire marshal and assistant fire chief. “A potential hazard is the propane, so (the inspector is) checking for any leaks in the lines, making sure the hoses are approved for that use.”

Last Tuesday, in Philadelphia, a propane tank exploded inside a food truck injuring 12 people and severely burning two people.

Locally, it was a tragic reminder of the potential danger.

“Our division chief, (who’s) responsible for the fire prevention division, went ahead and put that out to all the inspectors and said, ‘Look, this is why we do these type of inspections. It’s because of public safety,’” said Monestier.

Food truck operators are required to have fire safety inspections once a year and they have to display the inspection sticker on the outside of the truck next to the health inspection sticker. They can also have pop-up inspections at any time.

Find the entire article with video at ksat.com <here>

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Food Truck Propane Leaks

After yesterday’s tragic propane explosion in a Philadelphia food truck we felt the need to provide food truck owners the ability to check for food truck propane leaks themselves.

In many food truck businesses, propane is the fuel of choice for the powering of their kitchen equipment. Although propane companies have specialized equipment designed for checking for leaks and their severity, food truck owners and their staff members can and should check for leaks.

Propane Cylinder Dimensions

The dimensions presented below are approximate measurements of common size propane cylinders found in service today. The measurements are not exact so contact your propane company or container manufacturer for precise cylinder dimensions.

20#
30#
40#
100#
Capacity (gallons)
Weight (empty)
Weight (full)
Overall Height
Diameter
BTU Capacity
4.7 gal
18 lbs
38 lbs
18 inches
12.5 inches
430,270
7.1 gal
24 lbs
54 lbs
24 inches
12.5 inches
649,980
9.4 gal
29 lbs
70 lbs
29 inches
12.5 inches
860,542
23.6 gal
68 lbs
170 lbs
48 inches
14.5 inches
2,160,509

 

Checking For Food Truck Propane Leaks

The process for finding food truck propane leaks is quite simple because the supplies and ingredients are found in almost every home and consist of just soap and water. Using a solution such as this is safe and will not harm your food truck’s propane tank or plumbing connections. It’s been heard of that people use a match or lighter to check for leaks and nothing could be more unsafe. Soap and water will safely identify and give an indication of the size of the leak.

Homemade propane leak detector solution can be placed in a spray bottle or other container. Liquid dishwashing soap will produce the most bubbles when mixed with water and is what’s most commonly used. If a spray bottle is used, adjust the tip of the sprayer so that a sharp stream is produced by squeezing the bottle’s trigger.

Don’t use a broad misting as this won’t adequately cover the connection or seal that’s being checked for leaks. The sharp stream will provide enough of the soapy mixture to produce bubbles if there is in fact a leak as well as reaching into any recessed connections that are not easily reached.

Using a sponge or dish rag to dispense the solution will adequately indicate any propane leaks as well. These leaks are common on older tanks and installations so do not be alarmed if you find a leak.

If You Find Propane Leak

As a general rule, small bubbles indicate a small leak while large bubbles indicate a larger leak. Tightening the screws on the face gauge will probably stop any leak around the face gauge. However, trying to fix the leak yourself may do more harm than good. This is especially true on older tanks where the screws may be easily sheared off if over-tightened.

The best thing to do is call your propane supplier and let them know that you’ve found a leak and they’ll make arrangements to take care of it. Again, small leaks are not cause for alarm. It’s not all that much and leaks of this size are easily fixed by tightening a fitting or connection. Until the leak is corrected we suggest you shut down any of the kitchen equipment it fuels.

Propane is a very safe fuel. But as with any energy source, there are steps you should take to further ensure your safety:

  • Learn what propane smells like. Propane retailers have scratch-and-sniff pamphlets to help your staff members recognize its distinctive odor.
  • Know where gas lines are located, so you won’t damage them when shifting or moving kitchen equipment within your food truck.
  • Don’t store cleaning fluids, oil-soaked rags, gasoline, or other flammable liquids near a gas-burning appliance where vapors could be ignited by the pilot light. Propane is a very safe fuel. Propane’s unique molecular properties make it much safer and cleaner than related petroleum-based energy sources.

If you’d like to learn more about propane safety please follow this link to propanesafety.com

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When I woke up this morning, I continued with one of my traditional morning rituals…check the projected weather for the day. While we’re still in October, my weather app told me that Chicagoland area residents have a 60 percent chance of getting snow today.

food truck in snow

Yup, its that time of year again. Winter is here (at least temporarily) in the Midwest and food truck owners need to start planning for their winter operations. Where will people come out of their warm offices to spend time in a line for their favorite food truck? How many people will brave the weather to make a lunch or late night food run? Do the tires on the truck have enough tread to keep safe while on the snowy or icy roads?

While we have previously provided articles covering some general tips for food truck owners who operate in the cold weather regions of the country, today we thought it would be good to answer a question we received the other day lately. This question was regarding propane usage in the winter.

Question

During winter months my propane cooking equipment doesn’t get hot enough. Is this true that propane does not perform well in cold conditions? Should I get something to keep the tank warmer?

Answer

The boiling point of propane is the temperature in which it won’t vaporize from it’s liquid form. Propane will still vaporize at temps as low as -44 degrees, unless you are running your food truck around in temps that low (and really, who is going to stand in line for your menu at those temps?), the propane in the tank will perform to the levels it does in warmer months.

With that said, when temps reach -20 degrees the pressure within the tank can decrease, but because your propane system runs with an inline pressure regulator this drop in tank pressure will not affect the temperatures in which your equipment needs to maintain to cook your food.

In regards to the second part of the question, we always suggest keeping your truck indoors over night, this will keep an unprotected water system from freezing up and will help keep your whole truck at warmer temps. Purchasing a blanket or warmer for your food truck’s propane tank will do nothing to help keep your equipment temps higher. So the simple answer is no.

Tip: To help maintain a high level of pressure in your propane tank in the winter, make sure not to run your tank too low. This will vary from tank to tank, but by keeping more propane in the tank you are using, the better the pressure it will maintain inside.

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Thanks to propane-powered patio heaters, fire pits, fireplaces, and fire tables, food trucks and grilling now extends well beyond Labor Day. But since it’s tough to tell how much gas is in a propane tank, the fire often goes out just when you least expect it – which, on a chilly fall night, means the outdoor fun is over.

So how can food truck owners avoid running out of propane gas on a frigid fall evening? Moscap Engineering proudly releases a new product to accurately determine liquid propane levels.

gas check moscap

The GasCheck from Moscap Engineering, is a new device that allows users to determine exactly how much gas is in a propane tank before it runs dry. To operate, the rubberized tip of the pen-sized GasCheck is simply pressed against the outer wall of the tank at a 90-degree angle. It emits a high-tech ultrasonic signal to determine the liquid levels in the tank, signaling with a red light that there is no liquid at that level or a green light to indicate liquid is present at that level.

“As people use more and more propane-fueled products on their patio, it becomes impractical to keep a spare filled tank for each one,” says Thomas Tarantin, president/CEO of Moscap Engineering. “Shaking your tank or banking on temperature based products to determine the level of gas in your tank is not a reliable way to determine your gas level. The Gas Check liquid level indicator lets you monitor the propane level of all your tanks to prevent unexpected run-outs.”

GasCheck is powered by only two watch batteries. Intrinsically safe, GasCheck can be used in conjunction with flammable gases and complies with EU EMC Directive 2004/108/EG. Its readings are consistent regardless of external temperatures or weather conditions. GasCheck, which comes in a sleek cyan blue finish, has a suggested retail price of $49.95 – half the price of similar propane-level testing products in the marketplace. GasCheck is manufactured in Germany and distributed in the USA by Moscap Engineering, an affiliate of Tarantin Industries, Inc.

Moscap Engineering has been a leading manufacturer of specialty products for over 20 years. To locate a dealer or order online, visit http://www.moscapeng.com or call 732-780-9426.

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It is always important to understand how much propane the appliances you use in your food truck so that you don’t run out at an inopportune time. In this article we provide you with the basics to calculating your kitchen’s propane usage with the formula provided below. Each propane tank size has an approximate BTU capacity that you can use in conjunction with the combination of individual appliance’s BTU rating to determine how long a full propane tank will power your truck. Any appliance’s BTU rating assumes that the appliance is running at 100 percent, such as a gas grill running with all burners set on “high” or a water heater set at its maximum temperature setting.

food truck propane

Your first step is to measure your propane tank’s height and diameter to determine its size. The height should be measured with the tank standing on its bottom, from the floor to the base of the propane tank collar. The propane tank collar is the raised piece surrounding the tank valve. Measure the diameter at the widest point by wrapping your measuring tape around the tank.

A typical 20 lb. tank is 18 inches high and has a diameter of 12.5 inches. A 30 lb. tank is 24 inches high and has a diameter of 12.5 inches. A 40 lb. tank is 29 inches high and has a diameter of 12.5 inches. A 100 lb. tank is 48 inches high and has a diameter of 14.5 inches.

You can now use your propane tank size to determine its BTU capacity when full. A 20 lb. propane tank has a 430,270 BTU capacity, A 30 lb. propane tank has a 649,980 BTU capacity, A 40 lb. propane tank has a 860,542 BTU capacity and a 100 lb. propane tank has a 2,160,509 BTU capacity.

Now you will want to locate all of the propane using appliance BTU ratings. The BTU rating for each appliance will be found on the appliance itself or in the owner’s manual (this is why we always suggest keeping these).

Now that you have added up all of the appliance BTU ratings, use a calculator to divide your propane tank’s BTUs (if your truck has multiple tanks, add these numbers up first) by the total appliance BTU rating to determine how many hours your propane tank(s) will be able to power the appliances in your food truck at 100 percent.

If you are trying to determine the size or amount of propane tanks you need for your truck, you can manipulate this formula to come up with that information as well.

We hope you find this article helpful. If you have anything to add to share, please feel free to submit them to the comment section below.

 

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Tasty Kabob cook suffers minor burns in accident

WASHINGTON DC - The short alert from the D.C. Fire Fighters Association, Local 36, immediately caused an uproar when it hit Twitter feeds yesterday:

Burned Pt – 12th St & G St NW – propane tank from food truck caused face & respiratory burns, pri 1, life threatening to MedStar

tasty kabob

Both reporters and members of the D.C. Food Truck Association started trying to track down more details, which were scarce. The D.C. Fire Department would say only that a female suffered “burns about the face and respiratory burns.” A spokesman called it a “priority one” rescue, which means the injuries were life-threatening.

But when reached early this afternoon, Tasty Kabob owner Steve Hanifi said that a cook on his truck suffered only minor injuries in the accident this morning near Metro Center. She was injured, he said, when she held down the propane ignitor too long and then tried to light the flame under the truck’s steam table. Hanifi said the cook had just transferred from another Tasty Kabob truck and wasn’t as familiar with the second vehicle’s equipment.

“I guess it burned her a little bit on the side of the face,” Hanifi said. “The fastest thing I could do is call an ambulance.”

The cook, named Anna (Hanifi could not remember how to spell her last name), was taken to a nearby hospital and treated, the owner said. “It wasn’t severe enough for her to be kept there,” Hanifi added. “She was fine in the face….The only worry they had was that she might have damaged her eye.”

Hanifi noted that his cook called him on her cell phone and said she felt fine enough to return to work. The owner said he wouldn’t allow her back to work until doctors had cleared her.

“At first, it seemed very shocking,” Hanifi noted, referring to when he heard the news. “It was just something minor that blew out of proportion.”

The accident comes at a delicate time for Washington’s food truck owners. They’re still waiting for the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to issue the latest vending regulations, which have been fiercely contested by brick-and-mortar restaurants and their allies who would like to see more restrictions placed on trucks. One issue that inline businesses have harped on is public safety.

Find the entire article from the Washington Post <here> 

We at Mobile Cuisine send out our best wishes to all parties involved. Keep an eye out for updates to this story when they happen.

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