There is no doubt that hot work can be dangerous. But for those involved day-to-day in soldering and welding, it can be easy to become complacent. A recently updated report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) highlights the dangers of torch fires in both dollars and lives lost.
“Structure Fires Started by Hot Work” tracks data from the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System and NFPA’s annual Fire Experience Survey. From 2010-2014, equipment associated with hot work was involved in approximately 4,440 structure fires per year. The costs are high: property damage tallies $287 million per year, and more than 12 lives are lost annually. Five firefighters lost their lives in fires started by torches.
The report sheds light on how these fires are started to help hot work crews understand how to prevent future incidents. It also lists the types of sites where hot work fires occur, the equipment used, and the materials ignited.
Welding torches, cutting torches, and soldering equipment are the most prominent types of equipment in hot work structure fires – they are involved in 75% of fires reported between 2010 and 2014.
The most common causes for hot work fires are cutting or welding too close to a combustible in non-home fires, and a heat source too close to a combustible in home-based fires. Structure members/framing, flammable or combustible liquid or gas, insulation within the structural area, and exterior roof covering or finish were the materials most cited as being ignited.
Download a full copy of the report at the NFPA website. It includes a fact sheet along with in-depth data of hot-work fires during this period.
And last, NFPA 51B is the go-to standard for hot work safety. If you’d like to learn more about how fabrics that meet NFPA 51B requirements can be used on the job site to improve worker safety and help prevent hot work fires, we can help. AMI offers over 20 FM Approved welding curtains, welding blankets, and welding pads. We can also help with instructional materials to reduce hot work injuries. And we have trained staff to help guide you to the right product for the job – just contact us. We are happy to help.