Welding and other hot work are frequent ignition sources. The National Fire Protection Association estimated that from 2010–2014, local fire departments responded to 4,440 structure fires per year involving hot work equipment. These fires caused an average of 12 civilian deaths, 208 civilian injuries and $287 million in property damage per year.
Both hot work operations themselves and the equipment and materials associated with such work can create significant ignition and fire hazards. Hot work creates sparks and slag and gives off heat. Materials, such as acetylene and oxygen, are used in gas welding and an electrical current is used for arc welding. Additionally, these activities tend to occur in buildings that are not designed for these materials and hazards. Hot work often occurs within buildings undergoing renovations, which are even more susceptible to ignition. Hot work can be either temporary or ongoing. Permanent installations generally have the ability to address ignition hazards more consistently.
Several different types of hot work would fall under the requirements found in Chapter 35 of the Oregon Fire Code, including both gas and electric arc methods and any open-torch operations.
The important factor in avoiding ignition hazards is preparing for and monitoring hot work activities. Primarily these precautions relate to basic fire prevention and fire control. Chapter 35 details a program that allows a facility to assign an employee to be the administrator of a hot work program as defined in Section 202. This administrator would be allowed to issue permits for work on site, would be required to perform pre work inspections and would be responsible for ensuring that the correct safety measures are taken. The fire code official has the authority to make periodic checks of these records, so they must be made available for at least 48 hours after the work ends. Chapter 35 of the Oregon Fire Code provides specific requirements general fire safety during hot works operations, protection of combustibles and fire watch.
Personnel undertaking hot work will have varying levels of familiarity with the building or facility where the work is being done. Often, the person undertaking hot work is not an employee at the facility and may not be under the direct control of the hot work program manager.
“Hot Works” shall include, but not limited to:
(1) Welding and allied processes
(2) Heat treating
(4) Thawing pipe
(5) Powder-driven fasteners
(6) Hot riveting
(7)* Torch-applied roofing in conjunction with the requirements of NFPA 241
(8) Similar applications producing or using a spark, flame, or heat
This standard shall not apply to the following:
(2) Pyrotechnics or special effects
(3) Cooking operations
(4) Electric soldering irons
(5) Design and installation of gas cutting equipment and welding equipment covered in NFPA 51
(6) Additional requirements for hot work operations in confined spaces
(7) Lockout/tagout procedures during hot work
Oregon State University has adopted NFPA 51B Standard for Fire Prevention during Welding, Cutting, and Other Hot Work, 2019 Edition. The University will also comply with the requirements of the 2019 Oregon Fire Code, Chapter 35, Welding and Other Hot Work as well as OSHA 29CFR 1910.252 and ANSI Z49.1: Safety in Welding, Cutting, and Allied Processes. Links to these references are available in the reference section at the end of this document.
Hot work managers and operators shall be familiar with the above hot work rules and guidelines prior to permitting or conducting hot work operations on the OSU properties.
Operators of welding and cutting apparatus must demonstrate understanding of, competence in and responsibility for their activities. A thorough understanding of proper welding and cutting safety precautions as outlined in applicable NFPA, OFC standards is a minimum requirement. Operators should also be familiar with general industry standards, as well as federal and state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, manufacturers’ recommendations regarding equipment being operated and standards of good practice as detailed by the American Welding Society (AWS), or other professional safety organizations. Operators must be capable of physically demonstrating their knowledge of proper safety practices when required by the fire code official.