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Hot Work: Fire Watch

OSHA's Welding, Cutting and Brazing Standard provides the minimum fire watch requirements during hot work activities. The standard states that "fire watchers shall be required whenever welding or cutting is performed in locations where other than a minor fire might develop, or when any of the following conditions exits:"

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

The fire watch plays an integral role in monitoring hot work activities and preventing fires. Fire watch personnel must: 

  • Have fire-extinguishing capabilities available (fire extinguishers, fire, etc.).
  • Be familiar with sounding an alarm or initiating evacuation in the event of a fire.
  • Watch for fires in all exposed areas, and try to extinguish them or otherwise initiate evacuation.
  • Maintain the fire watch during and at least a half hour (30 minutes) after the completion of welding or cutting operations to detect and extinguish possible smoldering fires. Many companies extend the fire watch period from one to four hours. Grain dust can smolder for several hours after ignition. Always follow your company's requirements.
  • Sign the appropriate sections of the fire watch signoff and final checkup sections of hot work permit.

Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Gates Mills, OH;, and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;


This Safety Tip of the Week is sponsored by: KC Supply



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Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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