NFPA 1:  Safety requirements for food trucks and summer festivals on college campuses, #FireCodefridays

Blog Post created by kristinbigda Employee on Jun 22, 2018

Today’s blog marks the 100th #FireCodefridays post!  I started writing about issues related to NFPA 1, Fire Code, back in March of 2016.  Thanks to everyone who reads, contributes to, and shares this information!

College campuses are filled with students, staff, and visitors looking for a quick (and delicious!) meal, at all hours of the day.  This makes them an ideal location for food trucks and other food vendors to park and serve hungry passersby.  While colleges and universities are perhaps busiest during the academic year, they are also hosts to a variety of festivals and other events throughout the summer months that attract food vendors to serve the crowds of people that flock to the campus.  Just the other weekend, my alma mater hosted an event to introduce families to engineering and technology, and sure enough on all of the marketing information was a mention of food trucks! We have seen no slowdown in the interest of mobile food vendors and from what I’ve seen, they continue to grow in popularity.


Food truck safety and issues related to temporary and mobile cooking were brought to the Fire Code Technical Committee during the last Code revision cycle, as a topic to consider for possible inclusion in the 2018 edition of the Code.   Requirements in new Section 50.7 are based primarily on new provisions from NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations, 2017 edition as well as NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code, 2017 edition.  NFPA 96 was the driving force behind the development of new provisions for food trucks and mobile cooking and they serve as the expert source for the details regarding installation and inspection, testing and maintenance for the cooking equipment used on the vehicles and other cooking operations.  It should be noted that the 2017 edition of NFPA 96 contains new provisions for mobile and temporary cooking operations in an adoptable Annex B.  The NFPA standards development process does not permit another document (NFPA 1) to directly extract from an Annex so users will not see extract notations from NFPA 96.  However, the intent of the NFPA 1 committee was to include technical requirements consistent with those from NFPA 96. The technical committees will continue to work together over the next revision cycles to further enhance, improve, and coordinate the provisions. Many additional requirements are also extracted from NFPA 58.


While the Code defers to the expertise of standards such as NFPA 96 and NFPA 58 it also includes requirements that are unique to NFPA 1 and are included only in NFPA 1 based on its scope.  Some criteria you will find in new Section 50.7 are as follows:

  • Permits: Where required by the AHJ, permits are required for the location, design, construction, and operation of mobile and temporary cooking operations.
  • Vehicle Safety: Wheel chocks must be used to prevent mobile and temporary cooking units from moving.
  • Separation: Mobile or temporary cooking operations are required to be separated from buildings or structures, combustible materials, vehicles, and other cooking operations by a minimum of 10 ft (3 m).
  • Tents: Mobile or temporary cooking cannot not take place within tents occupied by the public.
  • Seating: Seating for the public shall not be located within any mobile or temporary cooking vehicle.
  • Fire Department Access: Mobile or temporary cooking operations cannot block fire department access roads, fire lanes, fire hydrants, or other fire protection devices and equipment.
  • Communication and Training:
    • An approved method of communication to emergency personnel shall be accessible to all employees.

    • The address of the current operational location is to be posted and accessible to all employees.

    • Prior to performing mobile or temporary cooking operations, workers are to be trained in emergency response procedures and a refresher training shall be provided every year.

    • Training must be documented and made available to AHJ.

  • Fryers: All fat fryers shall have a lid over the oil vat that can be secured to prevent the spillage of cooking oil during transit. This lid shall be secured at all times when the vehicle is in motion.


The safety and enforcement of events with the presence of trucks relies on multiple parties being aware of what requirements are out there related to mobile and temporary cooking equipment. During the summer, college activities could range in size from a few hundred people attending summer classes to a large concert where tens of thousands of people are visiting.  Event management and communication amongst staff and authorities is critical.  At colleges and universities this may mean event planning staff working with local/campus fire departments or campus safety teams to arrange for a safe presence of food vendors (verifying plans, issuing permits, etc).  Inspectors play a critical role in ensuring the safety of campus events.  


Along with requirements for food trucks, NFPA 1 also contains requirements for special outdoor events, carnivals and fairs.  In section 10.14 of the Code, requirements address permits, life safety evaluations, fire personnel, fire protection systems, electrical safety and communications.  Combined with the knowledge and awareness of the provisions in new 50.7, events with food trucks should be safe and fun for all.

Thanks for reading, stay safe!


Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA