start fires in adjacent rooms.” On fire watches, it advises: “Where hot work

cannot be carried out in a safe area, or where combustible material cannot be removed from the work area, a fire watch should be maintained during and after the hot work. This watch should be maintained for at least 30 minutes after the completion of the hot work, but where an unintended ignition may be difficult to detect or slow to develop, this may need to be extended to 60 minutes.”

BEYOND COMPLIANCE Organisations looking to go above and beyond compliance may want to consider using thermal imaging cameras. Zurich is urging contractors to adopt them

as standard to help reduce the number of fires caused by welding, grinding and torch applied roofing. The cameras, which cost as little as £400,

could detect more hot spots before they ignite. The devices can also be used to take time- stamped photos to demonstrate fire watches have been carried out. The insurer is also pressing for a voluntary

licensing system to encourage best practice and provide peace of mind to businesses when choosing contractors. Before carrying out or supervising hot work, contractors would complete a one-day training course, giving them a licence valid for five years.

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Scandinavian countries have had a similar

‘passporting’ approach in place since the 1980s, which is said to have significantly reduced hot work fires to less than five per cent of fire losses over the last decade. The Fire Protection Association (FPA) is one

body that offers a hot work passport scheme in the UK. It is designed for supervisors and operatives who carry out risk assessments to complete hot work permits. Over 2,850 hot work passports have been issued to date and it is valid for five years from the date of completion.

CONCLUSION In many instances, the use of hot work equipment is the most efficient way to achieve

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certain tasks during construction, renovation and maintenance. However, all activities classed as hot

work inherently carry a degree of risk, with the dangers often exacerbated by poor practices and processes. Whether hot work is being undertaken by your

own staff or external contractors, it should always be authorised, monitored and documented. Better training and awareness around pre-

work assessments combined with the use of new technology such as thermal cameras could go a long way to dramatically reducing the frequency of fires caused by hot work. .


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