Food trucks may appear innocuous, but the tools they use to prepare food can create a significant explosion and fire hazards. These hazards place employees and customers in danger of receiving serious thermal burns and other injuries.
The Growth of the Food Truck Industry
The food truck industry is growing at a rapid clip. It is estimated there are more than 4,130 food trucks operating in the United States and that these trucks generate nearly $1.2 billion in revenue each year. On average, each truck generates approximately $291,000 in revenue with a start-up cost of just $90,000. The profit to cost ratio makes it an appealing investment for those looking to own and operate their own business, or for restaurants seeking for ways to expand their profit margins. Alarmingly, with the rapid growth of the industry, regulations that food truck operators are required to adhere to have not kept up with the times. Many of the trucks rolling down the road may present hazards to those who operate them and those who patronize them during their lunch breaks, at county fairs, etc.
Food Trucks and Fire Hazards
It’s a hot market and the risks of an increasing number of catastrophic fires are warming up. Food trucks rely heavily on propane gas cylinders to prepare food for clients. The hoses and fasteners used to affix these tanks to trucks and connect them to stoves, fryers, etc. are susceptible to loosening each time the vehicle moves. Should an explosion occur in a crowded area, a considerable number of people can be caught within the blast radius. Just 20 pounds of propane can exert the same amount of explosive energy as 120 sticks of dynamite. For those inside the truck, a fire or explosion can easily be a fatal event. Nationwide, approximately 68% of food truck fires are the result of leaks or structural failures involving propane tanks.
Stir in Gasoline and Electricity
In addition to propane, food trucks often have electrical generators to power lights and equipment. This creates a risk of electrical fires and electrocution. There is also the gasoline or diesel fuel used to power the vehicle itself. Combined, many food truck fires involve multiple ignition sources and fuels which can include cleaning fluids that can further complicate firefighting efforts and exacerbate personal injuries when a fire erupts.