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Fire prevention
  • Appropriate fire prevention procedures depend on the nature of the object to be welded or cut and its surroundings.

Welding and metal cutting operations produce molten metal, sparks, weld spatter, slag, and hot work surfaces. All of these can create a situation that can cause fires. At 1910.252, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) addresses the fire hazards of hot work.

When the object to be welded, cut, or heatedAndThen
Can be movedA safe, fire-resistant workplace is availableThe object should be moved to that space for working
Cannot be readily movedAll fire hazards are moved at least 35 feet away or are protectedThe object can be worked in place
Cannot be movedAll fire hazards cannot be removedSteps must be taken to confine the heat, sparks, and slag to protect the immobile fire hazards
Cannot be moved Normal fire prevention precautions are not sufficientAdditional personnel shall be assigned to guard against fire during the work and for a sufficient amount of time afterward
More information can be found in:

  • The company fire prevention plan.
  • 29 CFR 1910, Subpart Q — Welding, cutting and brazing.
  • ANSI Z49.1-1967 — Safety in Welding and Cutting.

To best prevent and address fires, workers must be well-informed about:

  • The company’s welding “best practices,”
  • The need to check for fire hazards prior to welding or cutting,
  • How to obtain a “hot work” permit, and
  • How to report fires.

They should also know when and how to involve a fire watcher.

When are fire watchers required?

Fire watchers provide additional safeguards against fire during and after welding, cutting, or heating operations. A fire watcher is required in situations where:

  • Other than a minor fire might develop,
  • Combustible material is located within 35 feet of the work,
  • Combustible material is located more than 35 feet away but can be easily ignited by sparks,
  • Wall or floor openings within 35 feet expose combustible material in adjacent areas or concealed wall or floor spaces, or
  • Combustible materials are located on the opposite side of surfaces being welded.

The fire watch is to be maintained for at least 30 minutes following completion of the work.