State lawmakers seek to regulate restaurant grease traps after toddler's death

Sep 13, 2019

Earlier this summer, a 3-year-old Rochester boy died after falling into a grease trap outside a Tim Horton's restaurant. Now, the death of Bryce Raynor has spurred state lawmakers to propose actions aimed at ensuring such a tragedy never happens again.

The bill, being introduced by Sen. Tim Kennedy of Buffalo and Irondequoit Assemblymember Jamie Romeo, requires food establishments with accessible outdoor grease traps to ensure the hole is secured by a bolt or locking mechanism and that it be constructed of cast iron or construction-rated material. It also requires the trap to be locked at all times, other than during cleaning and maintenance, and it requires the establishment to display a warning sign near the manhole.

State lawmakers Sean Ryan, Jamie Romeo, Tim Kennedy and Karen McMahon are supporting regulations to prevent tragedies involving restaurant grease traps.
Credit Michael Mroziak / WBFO News

"The boy's death revealed a gap in state law. Currently, grease traps in New York State are regulated by local wastewater treatment requirements, but those don't always specify safety standards for grease trap lids or designs," Kennedy said, at a news conference Friday. 

Romeo said the toddler's tragic death exposed a dangerous lack of regulations.

"Clearly, the industry has not self-corrected this," Romeo said. "This is a very unique set of circumstances that often is not regulated. We should not be waiting for another horrible tragedy to happen with another young child in another part of this country before we take action."

Annual inspections would be required to assess the compliance of the traps. The bill will be considered as part of the next legislative session, which begins in January. Kennedy said he expects the bill to be fast-tracked.

Kennedy and Romeo were joined by local Assembly members Sean Ryan and Karen McMahon, all Democrats, who are supporting the legislation.

WBFO's Michael Mroziak contributed to this report.