Welding Fire Hazards

a. Fire prevention and protection is the responsibility of welders, cutters, and supervisors. Approximately six percent of the fires in industrial plants are caused by cutting and welding which has been done primarily with portable equipment or in areas not specifically designated for such work. The elaboration of basic precautions to be taken for fire prevention during welding or cutting is found in the Standard for Fire Prevention in Use of Cutting and Welding Processes, National Fire Protection Association Standard 51B, 1962. Some of the basic precautions for fire prevention in welding or cutting work are given below.

b. During the welding and cutting operations, sparks and molten spatter are formal which sometimes fly considerable distances. Sparks have also fallen through cracks, pipe holes, or other small openings in floors and partitions, starting fires in other areas which temporarily may go unnoticed. For these reasons, welding or cutting should not be done near flammable materials unless every precaution is taken to prevent ignition.

c. Hot pieces of base metal may come in contact with combustible materials and start fires. Fires and explosions have also been caused when heat is transmitted through walls of containers to flammable atmospheres or to combustibles within containers. Anything that is combustible or flammable is susceptible to ignition by cutting and welding.

d. When welding or cutting parts of vehicles, the oil pan, gasoline tank, and other parts of the vehicle are considered fire hazards and must be removed or effectively shielded from sparks, slag, and molten metal.

e. Whenever possible, flammable materials attached to or near equipment requiring welding, brazing, or cutting will be removed. If removal is not practical, a suitable shield of heat resistant material should be used to protect the flammable material. Fire extinguishing equipment, for any type of fire that may be encountered, must be present.