Hot Work (e.g. Welding)

What is hot work?

Hot work is any activity that creates heat, flame, sparks or smoke. Examples of hot work include, but are not limited to: welding (gas or arc), cutting, grinding, brazing, soldering and hot tar operations.

Is non-fire-causing work part of the hot work program?

Yes - some types of work can cause problems for a fire protection system, but do not have the potential to start a fire. Examples include dust-generating work such as sanding, and steam-generating work. In these cases the hot work procedures must be followed to ensure that the fire protection system will not be falsely activated.

When is a fire watch required?

A fire watch is required whenever cutting or welding is performed in areas where a major fire might develop, or when any of the following conditions exist:

  • Appreciable combustible material in building construction or contents is closer than 35 feet to the point of operation.
  • Appreciable combustibles are more than 35 feet away but are easily ignited by sparks.
  • Wall or floor openings within a 35-foot radius expose combustible material including concealed spaces in walls or floors.
  • Combustible materials are adjacent to the opposite side of metal partitions, walls, or roofs, and are likely to be ignited by conduction or radiation.

Fire guards may not be assigned any duties other than to remain alert and guard against fire, and they must be alert to sparks, the transmission of heat, and the potential ignition of combustible material.

One FDNY-certified fire guard is required per spark-producing tool (torch, chop saw, grinder). An additional fire guard shall be provided on the floor or level below the torch operation.

Why does a fire watch have to remain on the job site for 30 minutes after the completion of hot work?

Most fires associated with hot work occur after the work has been completed. A spark that landed in an unnoticed location may smolder. It takes time for the fire to grow to a point where flame and smoke are visible. By that point the workers may have left the site.

Do I need to have a certificate of fitness to perform hot work?

Operators of torches and required fire watches must have a current certificate of fitness issued by the New York City Fire Department in their possession during torch operations.

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