The popularity of food trucks over recent years hasn’t waned, likely due to their mobility and trendy menu items. As the food truck industry grows, so do the fire risks.

The International Association of Fire Chiefs partnered with FEMA to present a webinar on September 21, 2015 on Fire/Life Safety Considerations for Street Vendors, Fairs and Festivals, in which much of the focus was on food trucks.

Michael Young, deputy fire chief – Operations for the Plymouth Fire Department in Massachusetts, explained that despite media reports covering food truck fires and explosions, there’s not enough awareness of the hazards associated with them.

One example was the 2012 Canadian National Expo, where a food truck explosion caused $30,000 in damage. Young cited several more examples that included a March 2015 Washington D.C. food truck explosion and the heavily publicized Philadelphia food truck propane explosion that killed two and injured 13 on July 1, 2014.

Young said that though food trucks appear to be a recent phenomenon, they have been a part of street and waterfront festivals as well as state fairs for years.

In 2014, The International Fire Marshals Association decided to research existing safety codes that could apply to food trucks. At that time, the association determined there was a need for increased awareness of the risks associated with operating a food truck.

For example, 20 pounds of propane is equivalent to 120 sticks of dynamite, Young said.

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