Responsibility and understanding feature far more within a Mobile unit than a permanent kitchen, as such planning, layout and equipment choice are vital, you are on your own, you have no back up appliances and resources are at a minimum. In short a permanent kitchen has powerfull extract, ventilation and auto safety devices supported by back up appliances furthermore they have the luxury option of more powerful heavy duty appliance choices.
The basics of gas safety remain the same, appliances must be fit for purpose, gas pipework and valves must be gas tight and the extraction and ventilation of the products of combustion is essential for your safety. That is when the similarities end, mobile units run on Bottled LPG, unlike natural gas this is high pressure and un-predictable, it can contain impurities, the flame is faster and harder to set, maintenance of the gas air mix is crucial to the perfect flame. For the operator the perfect flame should be blue and constant, yellow flames or flame tips, indicate the presence of Carbon, this also leaves a black stain on pots, this is a sign of a combustion issue and must be immediately rectified.
As a simple guide, appliance choice is critical, if an appliance fails you lose trade, this is not an area that salesmen or the internet suppliers can be relied upon, don’t be governed by price, choose from experience or peer review, heavy duty appliances are unlikely to be suitable, as such, appliances should be medium duty, un-complicated from a recognised brand, Interlocks and ECV’s found in permanent kitchens are a luxury but not mandatory, however pipework is important, flexible hoses are date stamped and must conform, local isolation ( emergency shut off ) must be visible and easy to access, however it does not have to be automated.
Counters and appliance stands will require the skills of a good fabricator, ideally steel frame with stainless finish, however burnished or chequer plate alloy works well. On the basis that trailers are bespoke installations, on detachable LPG supplies, the pipework does not have to be laid in by a gas safe engineer, however it does have to be of a regulation grade and size, the LPG setup, cannisters, and regulators would typically be installed by the specialist gas supplier, with bottle isolation and connection on a simple copper /steel threaded connection to supply pipework. The final connection, appliance commissioning, safety testing and any appliance, burner of valve maintenance must be undertaken by a Gas Safe Registered engineer
The importance of gas inspections, within a van you have two tangible Risks , firstly, Combustion and gas escape, this needs little explanation, its visual and destructive, Secondly and potentially the highest Risk, the products of combustion, or to be more precise incomplete combustion, in simple terms this is Carbon Monoxide, a silent killer which has no odour. Whilst gas tightness and appliance performance are important, the signs that indicate the potential for Carbon Monoxide feature highly on an inspection. The means of eradication are to ensure a blue flame is produced at all burners, at all times, and extract and ventilation is available and fit for purpose, as such Pass/ Fail confirmations are made on the following points, ventilation, operating pressure, flame failure protection, overall visual condition, chimney performance, air flow, and spillage ( this refers to POC’s – products of combustion ) remaining within the cabin.
Annual safety inspections are mandatory, frankly operators who do not instruct them are reckless, and potentially un-insured. The inspection CP44 Mobile catering van specific gas safety certificating, is easy to arrange, but must be undertaken by an engineer with correct Gas Safe Registration CoNGLP1CMC in addition to ComCat registration. However the responsibility does not end there, regular monitoring ( Risk Assessment ) by the operator is advisable, and would include the following questions.
Are all flames Blue?
Are the flames consistent?
Is the shut Off accessible?
Is the hose in good order?
Is Black soot present ? ( Sign of carbon )
Is moisture Present? ( Sign of carbon )
Are ventilation ports blockage free
Is Extract system functioning ?
Has anyone reported, headaches, dizziness, tiredness, poor balance, nausea etc ? ( Signs of carbon Monoxide )