Local legislators propose new grease trap safety regulations

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Local New York State Assembly members Harry Bronson (D-138) and Jamie Romeo (D-136) have submitted new legislation regarding the safety of grease traps.

Their new proposed regulations were sent out just two days after a 3-year-old fatally fell into a grease trap at the University Avenue Tim Hortons in Rochester.

Their proposal calls for stronger trap materials, a securing mechanism, signage to display the grease traps, and annual inspections.

The legislators released a joint statement Wednesday:

“Every parent’s worst fear is that harm will come to their child. Today we continue to mourn the heartbreaking death of a young boy and we grieve with his family.

The death of any child is tragic and the fact that similar grease trap incidents occurred in other states is deeply disturbing. That is why we have introduced legislation which would ensure that this type of devastating tragedy never occurs again in New York State. Our legislation does this through the adoption of four key safety provisions.

  • One — the covers to these traps will no longer be permitted to be plastic, they must be made of metal and rated for heavy road traffic.
  • Two — they must be secured with a bolt or locking mechanism at all times when they are unattended.
  • Three — there must be signage that is clearly visible at the location of the trap indicating the danger.
  • Four — annual inspections will be required to ensure compliance with the aforementioned provisions.

These are common-sense safety measures that will protect our children in our community and across New York State. We ask for the community to keep this family in their thoughts during this difficult time.”

Grease traps are plumbing systems that must be located outside any building with the “capacity to serve group meals,” including restaurants, according to Monroe County code. The main component of a grease trap is a storage tank, designed to prevent fats, oils, and grease from pan-cleaning and food production out of the sanitary sewer systems.

The grease trap at the University Avenue Tim Hortons location was located in an open area in the back of the restaurant. Police say the lid to the grease trap’s tank was not only made of plastic, but was left unsecured over the 2-3 feet diameter of the trap. They say the boy must have stepped on the unsecured lid, causing it to open up, and trap him below.

A large police presence responded around 11 a.m. Monday after the boy’s mother reported the child was missing. A witness who discovered the boy attempted to give him CPR at the scene. The boy was then transported to Strong Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

“It’s a horrible, tragic accident,” said investigator Frank Camp, Rochester Police Department.

Camp said there was no fencing, and that the grease trap was “flush with the ground,” with a lid made of plastic. Officials say they are awaiting word from the medical examiner’s office to determine a cause of death.

Tim Hortons officials released a statement Monday regarding the incident:

What occurred today was a tragedy and on behalf of the Tim Hortons family, we offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the young boy who passed away. Tim Hortons is fully cooperating with authorities. As there is an ongoing police investigation, we have no further comment at this time.

The University Avenue Tim Hortons remains closed until further notice.

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