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.
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.
A fire watch is required whenever cutting or welding is performed in areas where other than a minor 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.
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.
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.