New requirements to be enforced for food trucks operating in Columbia

Starting next year food trucks conducting business within the capital city will be required to meet new guidelines set by the latest edition of the International Fire Code.

“This initiative by our department will help ensure that all food vendors operating a food truck within the city will be safe while serving their customers,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “Many people love to visit food trucks to grab a quick bite during the work week or at weekend events. Our goal is to make sure that these vehicles have all the necessary equipment onboard to prevent or mitigate fires and other hazards.”

Mobile food trucks have become fixtures for many downtowns, business districts and events. While they offer convenient dining options and unique eating experiences, these ‘virtual restaurants’ also create safety challenges. I recent years increased fire incidents and gas explosions have led to a closer review of safety regulations and inspections.

As a result, the International Code Council developed a section for the 2018 edition of the International Fire Code (IFC) to address mounting fire safety concerns. Requirements include a wide range of fire safety features — from fire suppression to safeguarding of LP (liquefied gas) and CNG (compressed natural gas) systems.

The Columbia Fire Marshal’s Office will start enforcing these new requirements beginning on January 1, 2020 when the regulations will go into effect in South Carolina. All new and existing food preparation vehicles containing cooking equipment that produces smoke or grease-laden vapors are subject to the new rules. These vehicles include food trucks, concession trailers and similar vehicles used for cooking, preparing and serving food to the public.

            Here are a few excerpts from the new guidelines:



  • Cooking equipment that produces grease-laden vapors requires a Type I kitchen exhaust hood.
  • Type I kitchen exhaust hoods require an automatic fire-extinguishing system.

Image result for 2a10bc fire extinguisherImage result for class k fire extinguisher


            2A: 10BC                                              Class K 


  • At least one 2A:10BC fire extinguisher and one 1.5-gallon Class ‘K’ fire extinguisher are required for up to four fryers with a medium capacity of 80 pounds.
  • Gas cooking appliances must be secured and connected to the fuel supply piping with an appliance connector complying with ANSI Z21.69/CSA 6.16
  • For appliance son casters, restraining devices are required.
  • Cooking oil storage containers must not exceed 120 gallons and must be properly secured against spills.
  • Cooking oil storage tanks must be listed for their use (e.g., UL 80, UL 142).
  • Individual-capacity, nonmetallic tanks must not exceed 200 gallons.
  • Cooking oil tanks must have normal and emergency venting capabilities.



  • Exhaust systems — including hood, grease removal, fans, ducts and other accessories — must be inspected and cleaned regularly.
  • Fire extinguishers must be recertified annually.
  • Automatic fire-extinguishing systems must be serviced every six months.
  • LP gas containers and fuel-gas piping systems must be inspected annually and labeled by an approved U.S. Department of Transportation inspection agency
  • CNG containers must be inspected every three years. Containers must not be used past the expiration date on their label.
  • The inspection agency must label the fuel gas system or another part of the food truck with a tag indicating name of agency and date of inspection.
  • All electrical devices must be properly maintained.



  • The maximum aggregate capacity of LP gas containers used in food trucks is 200 pounds.
  • LP gas containers must be securely mounted and restrained.
  • LP gas containers must meet NFPA 58 requirements for design compliance.
  • The maximum aggregate capacity of CNG containers transported by the vehicle is 1,300 pounds of water capacity.
  • Containers must be properly secured.
  • CNG containers must be NGV-2.
  • When CNG containers and system are used to supply fuel for cooking as well as transportation, they must be installed in accordance with NFPA 52.
  • Piping for LP gas systems, including valves and fittings — must be protected from tampering, impact damage and damage from vibration.
  • The vehicle must have a listed LP gas alarm in the vicinity of the LP gas components, in accordance with manufacturer instructions.
  • All CNG components and system piping must be safe from tampering, damage and impact during transportation and use.
  • Vehicles using CNG must have a methane alarm.



All mobile food trucks are subject to fire inspections.

  • Inspections for business and peddler’s licenses must be done by appointment at the commissary site indicated on the application within the City of Columbia.
  • Food trucks that do not comply will have 30 days after an inspection to do so.
  • Compliant food trucks will be issued a sticker (to be displayed in a prominent location at or near the service window) and recommended for business or peddler’s license approval.
  • Copies of inspection orders and reports must be kept in a safe place inside the food truck for review.


Other codes and standards not listed above may also apply. All licensed food trucks must be registered through the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles and meet S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control requirements.

You can find more information on these new requirements by visiting the National Fire Protection Association’s website.