By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council’s attempt to regulate food trucks in the wake of a propane tank explosion last July that killed two stalled today over the question of whether the city even has the right to inspect them.

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The Streets and Services Committee of City Council was considering a measure that originally called for regular inspections of food truck safety by the Philadelphia Fire Department.  But currently, it is the state that inspects food truck propane tanks, not the city.

The question of whether the city can demand its own inspections, as well as concerns about other aspects of proposal, resulted in several hours of private wrangling among staffers for councilmembers and the mayor.

The sponsor of the bill, Council president Darrell Clarke, hopes all the issues can eventually be resolved.

“I still, frankly, speaking along with the fire department, would like to have full authority to ultimately do all of the inspections,” Clarke said today.  “But that’s something we will hopefully work out with the state during the next several months.”

(City Council president Darrell Clarke.  IMage from City of Phila. TV)

(City Council president Darrell Clarke. Image from City of Phila. TV)


In the end, amendments were proposed but the committee delayed its vote.

Clarke’s measure was prompted by the death last July of a mother and daughter who were working on a food truck when it exploded.

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The mayor’s public safety director, Mike Resnick, said today that however the jurisdictional issues are eventually resolved, the safety issues must be addressed.

“What I want is, whoever does take responsibility for inspections, whether it’s the fire department, whether it’s the state, whether it’s the sellers of propane, that the regulations are uniform, that we have the best safety standards in place,” Resnick told reporters after the hearing.

(Philadelphia public safety director Mike Resnick testifies.  Image from City of Phila. TV)

(Philadelphia public safety director Mike Resnick testifies. Image from City of Phila. TV)


Some food truck owners who watched the bureaucratic wrangling left satisfied that the bill would be amended.

“We have the same goal in mind, which is safety: safety for consumers and for the food vendors,” said Rob Mitchell, who owns “The Cow and the Curd” food truck, “so it’s a great day.”

The various parties involved will continue negotiating, and then the matter must return to the committee for a vote.  Clarke said he hopes to get this resolved soon, particularly with high-profile events like the pope’s visit on the horizon.

“We’d like to be on the ground, having the full jurisdiction locally, to inspect these tanks on an as-needed basis,” Clarke said.


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