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King County fire marshals offer regulatory relief to food trucks

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This year, the fire marshals in King County have worked together to ease the regulatory burdens that many food trucks encounter as they move across different municipalities in the county.

Previous rules meant that food trucks had to be inspected annually to make sure they were operating in line with each city’s fire codes.

Often, food truck owners would have to be inspected and obtain a fire permit from every city they wanted to do business in, making food truck business increasingly difficult.

Lori Johnson, executive director of the Washington State Food Truck Association, said the burden that food truck owners faced was so significant that the WSFTA had lobbied for a bill in the Legislature that would have standardized fire codes and regulations for food trucks among all regions in the state — even allowing fire permit reciprocity to reduce the costs for food truck owners to travel to different cities and counties.

That bill never saw the governor’s desk. One of the people blamed for the failure of the bill was Anjela Barton, fire marshal of the Renton Regional Fire Authority, who said although she loves food trucks, she believes they can pose a serious public safety threat if not properly inspected and regulated.

Barton said with propane fuel sources and wiring in a moving kitchen, it is possible for leaks to occur and even explosions. She said this would be “significantly devastating” to the truck and the surrounding area.

However, Barton admitted that making food trucks pay for a fire permit and be inspected by every municipal fire authority where they do business does not necessarily make sense. That is why she and 39 other fire marshals in King County are agreeing to standardize their fire codes for food trucks and only mandate one inspection per year.

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Cameron Sheppard

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Cameron Sheppard

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