Fire in buildings under construction caused by hot work

Welder

To understand the risks, we have requested freedom of information from Fire and Rescue Services across the UK in 2018/2019.

England

Upon contacting all English Fire and Rescue Services, we were able to identify locations with the highest number of fires in the construction industry.

In total there were 218 fires in buildings under construction across England. 44 fires were caused by hot work.

The 5 places with the highest numbers are:

  • London; 81 fires in the construction industry
  • Devon & Somerset; 27 fires in the construction industry
  • Merseyside; 19 fires in the construction industry
  • Lancashire; 18 fires in the construction industry
  • South Yorkshire 17 fires in the construction industry

But the data we were most interested in, was how many of those incidents within the construction industry were caused by hot work.

The information received from Fire & Rescue services across England suggested that:

Dorset & Wiltshire has the highest number of fires in the buildings under construction caused by hot work, 24. This is followed by East Sussex 7, London 4, and Derbyshire 3. Other locations had one or zero fires caused by hot work.

We were able to find out that the main cause was welding/cutting equipment, combustible articles too close to the heat source, and incidents involving the use of a blow torch or other industrial equipment.

In total there were 4 injuries across England.

The team at CE Safety contacted 40 Fire and Rescue Services across England, of those, 10 do not record information relevant to construction industry and 5 have not replied yet.

Wales

According to figures from Fire and Rescue Service in South Wales, there were 3 fires in buildings under construction caused by hot work. Two incidents were caused by soldering and one by welding. There were no injuries reported.

The North Wales Fire & Rescue Service confirmed that there was 1 fire incident in a building under construction. There were no casualties or fatalities recorded. The fire was caused by industrial equipment (welding/cutting equipment).

The Mid and West Wales Fire & Rescue Service recorded 13 incidents related to ‘welding equipment’ within various property types.

The causes were also divided into:

  • Careless handling – due to careless disposal
  • Combustible articles too close to a heat source (or fire)
  • Natural occurrence
  • Negligent use of equipment or appliance (heat source)

No injuries were reported.

That is a total of 17 fires caused by hot work in Wales.

Scotland

Furthermore, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service confirmed that there were 180 fires in the construction industry in 2018/19, an overwhelming 143 (79%) of which were the result of hot work.

  • 51 fires during this period were caused by welding or cutting equipment
  • 22 by manufacturing equipment
  • 23 by kilns or other services.

These fires resulted in 21 casualties.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service has confirmed with us that they do not hold information on fires in buildings under construction.

With increased safety, improved employment prospects and lower insurance costs, hot work passports are worth every penny.

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