January 29 2016

Letter to the Editor: Concerned About Safety of Domino's In-Car Pizza Ovens

By: TJ Horgan

Domino’s, I have a bone to pick with you. No, I am not complaining about delivery times or a greasy pizza. I am concerned, because as a company, you have made a decision that is potentially hazardous to customer safety, but, speaking as a former pizza delivery driver, has potential to severely injure any driver, and most recently those in my hometown of Burlington, MA. 


In October of 2015, Domino’s rolled out the “Domino’s DXP,” which are reimagined versions of the Chevrolet Spark, fully-equipped with devices to “revolutionize” pizza delivery. Among these additions are specially-designed sections for 2-liter bottles, napkins and dipping sauces. 

Having delivered pizza for the entirety of my senior year, I will be the first one to admit that this vehicle, at first glance, will expedite delivery times, and aid driver organization. However, there is one item that is placed in each DXP that, seems to me, is an immediate danger to any person in close proximity to the vehicle.


An oven.

 

That’s right, Domino’s “revolutionized” pizza delivery by putting an oven in the back of each vehicle. If you are not familiar with the Chevy Spark, it is a small hybrid sedan, almost resembling a four-door Smart Car. Can you imagine a Smart Car with an oven in the trunk? 

This oven, wedged directly behind the driver's seat, can hold up to eight pizzas. And, according to NBC News’ feature on this vehicle, “is kept perpetually at 140 degrees.” Maybe 140 doesn’t sound like anything overwhelming, but combine it with “perpetual,” and we’ve got ourselves an egregious safety hazard, as just three months after being rolled out, the first DXP was found engulfed in flames, in the parking lot of the Winn Street Domino’s in Burlington. Shall we call it a spontaneous combustion?


At roughly 3:00 a.m. on Jan. 27, the Burlington Fire Department responded to what was a Domino’s DXP sitting in the parking lot roughly 20 feet away from Winn Street, completely on fire, to the point that it damaged the side of the store. Though the oven has not been officially deemed the cause of the fire, BFD Assistant Chief Mike Patterson told BNEWS that the fire “likely started in the passenger compartment rather than the engine.” Passenger compartment, as in, the area with the oven squeezed behind it. 


When I called the Domino’s Burlington store to inquire about the incident, I was anticipating being put on half a dozen holds, and eventually being given a generic explanation that the cause hasn’t been determined. However, that’s not what happened.


I spoke with an employee who immediately gave me the personal cell phone number of Domino’s Director of Operations, Fernando Cruz. 

It seems to me as though this employee was trying to send a message. Hey big-wigs, if you want to endanger the delivery drivers in the name of expediency, then you’re going to be held accountable to have an explanation when questions start being asked.


So here’s my question, Domino’s. Is it worth it?


Ultimately, from the perspective of a delivery driver, it is not worth the risk.


Maybe the oven played no role in the incident at all, maybe it was pure coincidence. Even so, a lot of crazy things happen on the roads (especially back home in Boston…), and all I’m saying is that it might not be worth a hotter sandwich, to sandwich your driver next to an oven. Keep the heat in the kitchen, guys. 


This situation is truly an example of “Don’t fix something that isn’t broken.”  During my time at Burlington House of Pizza, I have not received one complaint about food being cold. Maybe they’ll rent you some hot-bags while you work out the kinks in your oven-on-wheels. 

 
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