Is Propane Safe for Food Trucks?


An owner of the Frites ‘N’ Meats truck tells Midtown Lunch that his brother “got banged up pretty good” in the explosion that occurred aboard the truck yesterday and will be hospitalized “for a short while,” but assures, “The truck is destroyed but in the long run, everyone will be fine (it could have been worse).” Indeed, propane tanks can be such a risk that Kenny Lao, for one, made a conscious decision not to use them. “We use a green quiet diesel generator to power our dumplings,” he tells us. But plenty of other mobile cooks opt for propane (David Weber of the NYC Food Truck Association tells us it’s “an effective, quiet, and ecofriendly way to cook”), and some of them have gotten burned.

Thomas Yang of Bian Dang NYC (Formerly Cravings NYC) tells us he doesn’t use electric generators because they’re “loud and expensive”; however, he’s had difficulty with propane at least once in the past: “We started up the steam table but the wind blew out the flame unexpectedly. We weren’t aware of propane leaking without burning, and when we finally smelled something, we went to light it back on and a mini explosion happened and it burned the tip of my hair.” Trucks are required to carry fire extinguishers onboard, but future road warriors may want to keep these close calls in mind when deciding how to power their rides.