Department of public safety closer to new rules for food trucks
The Columbus Department of Public Safety is writing new regulations for mobile food trucks and adding a fresh layer of inspections.
Also, as part of the current budgeting process, City Council has recommended spending $150,000 to hire more licensing officers through public safety.
Amanda Ford, spokeswoman for the department, said the proliferation of food trucks has caused the city to take a closer look at safety issues associated with the mobile units.
The division of fire, for example, inspects propane hookups at festivals and special events, but it's not a requirement, Ford said.
She pointed to one incident at last year's Red White & Boom, in which a food truck's propane tank exploded.
No one was injured, "but those are the kinds of things we're looking at," Ford said.
Right now, the department has inspection power over push carts.
The latest move is part of a broader plan to draft additional inspection requirements to complement what is being done by Columbus Public Health, Ford said.
Operating restrictions, such as future locations, are among the new rules under consideration. The plan is to keep the trucks viable, but for them to remain safe and not impede traffic, she said.
Columbus now regulates 150 food trucks and 70 push carts, Ford said.
"This food-truck industry is somewhat new to Columbus and it's growing very fast, so we need to require them to meet certain safety regulations," she said.
Over the past year, additional responsibilities have been added to public safety's license section, but there's been no increase in personnel.
"That's going to be huge industry to manage and enforce," Ford said of the food trucks.
The new regulations, which would include an additional inspection fee, must be adopted by City Council.
Steve Concilla, a partner in That Food Truck, known for its farm-to-truck vittles, said he has no problem with the city upgrading the inspection process.
"Frankly, it would be beneficial to most food-truck vendors," he said. "It would add some more legitimacy to our business."
On the other hand, he hopes the city will openly communicate with mobile-food vendors if the new regulations are adopted.
"When we were building (the food truck), it was difficult to find laid-out rules and requirements," he said.
"It was available, but it was real difficult to find."