Hot work operations can be very dangerous, especially in areas where flammable or combustible materials are present. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2005 and 2009, the United States averaged 3,165 fires, $145 million in property damage, 8 deaths, and 116 civilian injuries per year relating to torch, soldering, and burner equipment.
Hot Work: Hot work operations include cutting, welding, brazing, soldering, grinding, thermal spraying, thawing pipe, and installation of torch-applied roof systems and other similar activity utilizing an open flame or generating sparks. Hot work does not generally include candles, cooking operations, electric soldering irons, and Bunsen burners used on lab benches and in fume hoods.
Hot work is very common in building construction and a necessary part of operation and maintenance activities. In some cases, hot work is associated with teaching and research activities.
Designated (Fixed) Hot Work Areas: A specific location designated and approved for hot work operations that is maintained fire-safe, such as a maintenance shop or detached outside location, that is of noncombustible or fire resistance construction, essentially free of combustible and flammable content, and suitably segregated from adjacent areas.
Designated areas are permitted by the fire service to verify the area is fire-safe.
Temporary Hot Work (Outside of Designated Areas)
Hot work conducted outside of designated areas presents significant risk. In these cases, a special permit with a long list of conditions is required. Precautions need to be taken to make sure the area is as safe as possible prior to beginning operations. The area must be kept under a fire watch during and after hot work operations.
- Permits Required
A permit issued by the fire service is required for all hot work at the University of Washington. Permits are not to be issued by organizational units unless specifically approved by the fire service.
- Units with Approved Programs
The following units may issue their own permits for work outside designated areas (field work):
UW Seattle Facilities Services (SFS)
On the Seattle Campus, UW Facilities Services has developed a Hot Work Permit Program approved by the Seattle Fire Department (SFD). This program allows SFS management to approve the fire safety aspects of a hot work operation. Information regarding this program can be found at http://www.washington.edu/facilities/orgrel/safetypractices/hot-work.
Establishing approved programs within organizational units can be a very effective way to reduce fire risk and administrative burden. For assistance establishing an approved program contact EH&S at (206) 616-5530.
- All Other Units
To establish a designated hot work area the fire service will need to inspect the area and equipment that will be used in order to ensure all safeguards have been met. Once that area is established, hot work operations may occur at any time provided the permit conditions are followed. You may contact EH&S at (206) 616-5530 for assistance in evaluating a space prior to applying for a permit.
Hot work outside of a designated location must be approved by the fire service. The hot work operator must be qualified and have approval before starting hot work operations. A permit may be issued for a single operation or a number of activities to be conducted over a period of time.
- Outside Contractors
Outside contractors must obtain permits from the fire service. The fire service may issue an annual permit that may be used anywhere in the jurisdiction to qualified contractors. Organizational units should ask the contractor to produce a permits and help ensure that the contractor is following the conditions outlined in the permit. Conditions are generally provided in writing by the fire service. Contract language must stipulate that hot work permits be obtained by the contractor and the conditions outlined in the permit followed.
EH&S has an institutional oversight responsibility to ensure safety. EH&S provides consultation and support to units performing hot work operations. EH&S does not issue permits and will not ask for organizational units to produce permits but may evaluate hot work operations to confirm proper protocols are followed to prevent fire.
Fire and Accident Reporting
All accidents at the University must be reported to EH&S at (206) 543-7262 and by filling out an Online Accident Reporting System (OARS) report.
Guidelines and Resources
Safety guidelines for hot work operations can be found on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
The Chemical Safety Board 2014 safety video titled “The Dangers of Hot Work”:
EH&S Online Training:
Example permit conditions for fixed and temporary hot work:
Seattle Fire Department Permit Applications:
Seattle Fire Department Hot Work Permit lookup (handy tool if you uncertain if you have a current permit):
Occupational Safety & Health (OSHA) 1910.252:
Washington State Labor & Industries (L&I) 296-24-680:
Seattle Fire Code (SFC), Chapter 35:
Contact information for fire departments serving the UW: