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Structure Fires Started by Hot Work

Report: NFPA's "Structure Fires Started by Hot Work" (PDF)
Author: Marty Ahrens
Issued: September 2016

This report provides estimates of U.S. structure fires reported in 2010-2014 that were started by welding torches, cutting torches, soldering equipment, burners, heat treating equipment, tar pots or tar kettles, and power nail guns, stud drivers or staplers. Separate estimates are provided for fires in homes and non-home properties. The report also includes descriptions of hot work fires previously published by NFPA and summaries from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s database of worker fatality and catastrophe investigations.

Report highlights

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 4,440 structure fires involving hot work per year. These fires caused an average of 12 civilian deaths, 208 civilian injuries and $287 million in direct property damage per year.
  • Forty-two percent of the fires involving hot work in 2010-2014 occurred in or on homes, including one or two-family homes and apartments or other multi-family homes, while 58% occurred in or on-non-home properties.
  • Welding torches were involved in one-third (34%) of hot work structure fires. The leading types of hot work equipment involved in structure fires were different in homes than in non-home properties.
  • The peak areas for home fires involving hot work were wall assemblies or concealed spaces, and bathrooms or lavatories. Exterior roof surfaces and processing or manufacturing areas were peak areas for non-home incidents. 

Hot work safety infographic

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