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Structure Fires Started by Hot Work

Report: NFPA's "Structure Fires Started by Hot Work"
Author: Marty Ahrens
Issued: August 2019 

* Errata issued on September 23, 2019. Download the errata. (PDF)

This report also includes descriptions of hot work fires previously published by NFPA, summaries from the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s database of worker fatality and catastrophe investigations, and brief descriptions from hot work injuries seen at hospital emergency departments and reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

Report highlights

  • U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 4,630 structure fires involving hot work per year in 2013-2017. These fires caused an average of 15 civilian deaths, 198 civilian injuries and $355 million in direct property damage per year.

  • Forty-three percent of the fires involving hot work in 2013-2017 occurred in or on homes, including one or two-family homes and apartments or other multi-family homes, while 57 percent occurred in or on non-home properties.

  • Welding torches ranked first among the type of hot work equipment involved in fires with 36 percent of the 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 (16 percent), and bathrooms or lavatories (13 percent). Exterior roof surfaces (12 percent) and processing or manufacturing areas (11 percent) were peak areas for non-home fires.

  • From 2001-2018, five firefighters were fatally injured in four unintentional fires started by torches. 

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