Any mobile food vendor who uses propane or propane accessories and operates in the City of Austin or Travis County must get a fire safety inspection.
If you use propane or propane accessories on your mobile vending unit inside the City of Austin and contracted municipalities, an inspection by the Austin Fire Department (AFD) is required. After your operational permit application is approved, an environmental health officer will schedule the inspection for the same date and time as your mobile unit inspection.
During the fire inspection, AFD personnel will complete a propane system inspection report (PDF, 511 KB). Keep the completed report in your records and bring it with you to each annual permit renewal inspection.
Austin Fire Department Inspection Checklist for Mobile Food Vendors
To prepare for your inspection, check off the following list of conditions in and around your mobile unit to make sure it meets minimum safety requirements. Because all mobile units are different, following this checklist does not guarantee you’ll pass inspection, but it will help you stay safe.
Location of Mobile Units
- Keep units at least 20 feet from any structure.
- Remain at least 15 feet away from any fire hydrant.
- Do not block access to a Fire Department Connection (FDC).
- Do not block any entrances or exits from a structure.
- Do not block unit exits.
- Supply electricity. Do not use it from a nearby structure.
- Do not use extension cords excessively.
- Properly cover breaker boxes and junction boxes.
- Protect wiring in a tube or other covering.
- Do not misuse electrical accessories or overload circuits.
- A maximum of two 100-lb propane cylinders are allowed, one to use and one spare. The cylinders cannot be manifolded together.
- Requalify propane cylinders every 12 years. All cylinders require a current date of manufacture if new or requalification stamp.
Propane Cylinder Location
- Do not locate propane cylinders (including spares):
- On rear bumpers, on exterior sides of vehicle, or roofs
- Below the lowest part of the vehicle frame
- Inside improperly vented or unvented trunks or beds of vehicles
- Inside passenger compartments of vehicles
- On the ground
- Ventilate the propane storage compartment with at least two vents (one top of compartment and one bottom of compartment), each vent having an area equal to at least .5 square inches for every 7 pounds of the total propane fuel capacity of the maximum number of the largest cylinders the compartment can hold.
- Have propane cylinders on vehicle to demonstrate how cylinders are secured to vehicle. Secure propane cylinders to prevent propane bottle from leaving mount or cage in case the vehicle crashes or rolls over.
- Measure the relief valve discharge from the propane cylinder no less than 3 ft horizontally along the surface of the vehicle to:
- Openings in the vehicle
- Propane burning appliance intake or exhaust vents
- All internal combustion engine exhaust terminations
Propane Cylinder Equipment
- List all cooking appliances used with propane.
- Do not place propane piping on unit’s sides, rear, or roof.
- Properly modify all appliances used with propane.
- Convert appliances required to be vented (by the manufacturer’s recommendations, usually greater than 40,000 BTUs) for use with propane by a Master Plumber licensed by the Texas Railroad Commission. Plumbing documentation showing proper conversion must be provided at the time of inspection.
- Make sure piping systems, including fittings and valves, comply with the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code.
- Make sure a maximum of 60 inches of metal flex hose is allowed for each appliance to connect to the propane hard pipe.
- Make sure the metal flex hose does not penetrate through walls, floor, or ceiling to the interior of the vehicle. Rigid pipe must be used to penetrate solid assemblies.
- Test piping annually at no less than 3 pounds per square in gauge (psig) for 10 minutes before appliances are connected and at system pressure after connection by a licensed Liquified Petroleum Gas technician. Documentation of test, within 90 days of inspection, must be provided at the time of inspection and must include:
- Original document at inspection (not a copy)
- Pressure and duration of test
- Name, address, license number, and phone number of the technician who performed the test
- The mobile vending unit’s license plate number
- Include date of test, pressure and duration of the test, name and license number of the technician, and the vehicle’s license number.
- Manual shutoff valves on gas lines are required at the point of use (the appliance) and at the supply.
- Have a 2A10BC fire extinguisher inside the vehicle.
- Mount each fire extinguisher in a noticeable, quickly reachable location.
- Service each one annually and maintain a current tag confirming its status.
- If using a deep fryer, have a Class K fire extinguisher in addition to the 2A10BC.
- Solid fuel appliances with a fire box are required to have one 2.5-gallon or two 1.5-gallon K-type extinguishers.
Travis County Fire Department Guidelines for Mobile Food Vendors
Additionally, unrestricted mobile vending units operating inside the unincorporated areas of Travis County must be inspected by Travis County Fire. The inspection fee is $125. Review Travis County’s checklist of fire safety guidelines before your inspection.