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‘Grease laden vapors’ a buzzword in food truck fire codes in Denver, Sheridan and elsewhere

(Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Mobile food vendors are regulated in different ways depending on the community, according to Oil City’s Thursday, May 16 correspondence with officials in various communities both in and out of Wyoming.

Blackbird Wood Fired Pizza and Provisions owner Josh Barhaug has said that an amendment that the City Council is considering to regulate mobile vendors operating out of trailers in the same way as food trucks are regulated would require him to install a type 1 hood system in order to receive a permit to operate in Casper.

Barhaug has also said that he did not think he’d be required to install the hood system in order to operate in other communities like Sheridan and Denver because his trailer is equipped with other safety measures that the manufacturer of his wood fired oven said should be sufficient.

Barhaug said he is planning to move back to Denver, where he thinks he’d be able to operate Blackbird without installing the hood system.

Denver Fire Department Senior Inspector Jennifer Aguilar said that permitting of mobile food vendors using wood fired ovens there is done on a case by case basis.

“It depends on how it is vented,” Aguilar said.

Denver’s fire code appears to mirror some aspects of the way the Casper Fire Department says mobile food vendors should be regulated. First, they also require annual permit renewals.

There is also mention of “grease laden vapors” in Denver’s code, something the Casper Fire Department has pointed to as a critical factor in determining whether hood systems need to be installed.

“If grease laden vapors are produced during the cooking or reheating process, the vehicle or kiosk must have a Class 1 Commercial hood system installed,” Denver’s code reads.

However, Denver’s code states that this requirement applies to food vendors utilizing propane to produce heat. It does not specifically mention food vendors relying on other fuel sources.

Aguilar added that the hood systems can be expensive to install. She also said that Denver’s fire code currently relies on the 2015 International Fire Code regulations, rather than the 2018 International Fire Code that Casper has adopted.

Sheridan, on the other hand, has adopted the 2018 International Fire Code, according to Plans Examiner Jeff Shoen. He said that Sheridan updated their mobile vendor regulations last summer.

He said that there are seven licenses operating in Sheridan, and none of those licensed vendors rely on a wood fired oven. But he said that under Sheridan’s current regulations, hood systems would be required if they’re operating in an enclosed space.

“What triggers the Type 1 hood is the grease laden vapors,” Shoen said.

He added that trailers or trucks that open on both sides would be treated like open-air kitchens and would not require the hood systems in that case.

The Cheyenne Fire Department said that they’ve also adopted the 2018 International Fire Code rules. However, a Cheyenne inspector said that they’ve not had recent applications for mobile food vendors and he wasn’t sure how Cheyenne’s code would apply to wood fired ovens specifically.

However, he said that “grease laden vapors” would also be an important factor in the permitting process there. He added that Cheyenne, like Casper, is looking to update the way mobile food vendors are regulated.

In Rapid City, mobile vendors using solid fuels are currently treated on a case by case basis, but Rapid City is working to adopt the 2018 International Fire Code as well.

“We are in the process of adopting the 2018 IFC,” Lieutenant Brian Staton of the Rapid City Fire Department Fire & Life Safety Division said. “As far as a solid fuel mobile oven we would have to treat that on a case by case [basis]. One question would be is the oven listed for the application [for which] it is going to be used?”

Oil City also reached out to Salt Lake City and the State of California to ask about their regulations, but was unable to speak with officials immediately on Thursday.

The Casper City Manager and Fire Chief were also unable to be reached immediately on Thursday.