The regions with the most hot work fires in 2022/23 revealed

Due to the presence of flames and sparks, hot work can be hazardous. This type of work is carried out mainly in construction and poses an increased risk of fires due to extreme temperatures and open flames. It’s a legal requirement for anyone in industrial work that involves the application of heat, so those employees will need to undertake hot works passport training in order to obtain a hot works permit.

With hot work being such a fire risk, it leads to the question, how many fires take place in the construction industry each year, and how many are caused by this type of work?

To find out more, we at CE Safety carried out an investigation into the number of fires in construction, how many were caused by hot work, and how each UK region compared. This is the third time we’ve completed this study, in the past we’ve also examined data from 2019 and 2021.

Overall data retrieved from fire and rescue services

259 Fires Related to Construction in 2022/23

Firstly, let’s examine the overall data collected from each fire and rescue service. In total, there were 259 fires related to construction in 2022/23. Of these 259 fires, the data revealed that 79 fires were caused by hot works.

Overall, there was a wide range of causes including Negligent use of equipment or appliance (heat source) and Combustible articles too close to heat source (or fire) – which were revealed by individual fire and rescue services.

In total, we received 35 responses from fire and rescue services supplying data while 10 were unable to supply the requested information. Additionally, we didn’t receive any reply from 5 fire and rescue services.

Before we examine data related to hot work, it’s valuable to investigate the total number of fires that occurred in the construction industry in 2022/23. This piece of information allows us to put the hot work data into context and examine the worst regions for construction fires.

Our findings revealed that Greater Manchester, North Wales and Merseyside ranked as the three worst regions for construction fires throughout 2022/23.

In total, there were 30 fires in Greater Manchester related to construction while North Wales and Merseyside experienced 21 fires each.

The ten regions with the most fires in buildings under construction during 2022/23 were:

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service were only able to supply the number of incidents, not fires – with the region recording a total of 1,185 incidents. However, we’re unsure of how many fires this piece of data includes.

It was interesting to see that the London Fire Brigade recorded 15 fires in buildings under construction. When we last completed this study for 2020/21 statistics, London ranked as the worst region for construction fires with a worrying 81 fires.

On the other end of the scale, five regions revealed that they did not experience a construction fire throughout 2022/23. These regions were; Cornwall, Norfolk, West Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, and Oxfordshire.

Fires related to hot work in 2022/23

Now that we’ve reviewed the number of construction fires by region, it’s time to investigate how many of these fires were caused as a result of hot work being carried out.

Unfortunately, the London Fire Brigade was unable to confirm how many fires were caused by hot work. Aside from London, each region that provided construction fire statistics was able to verify this piece of information.

Data retrieved from Freedom of Information requests revealed that 18 out of 21 fires in North Wales were caused by hot work – the most out of any region we received data for. This was followed by Humberside who confirmed that all 11 of the region’s construction fires were caused by hot work.

The ten regions with the most fires in construction caused by hot work during 2022/23 were:

This year’s results are a stark contrast to the data received in 2020/21, where London ranked top with five fires caused by hot work. In particular, it was shocking to learn that 100% of fires in Humberside were prompted by hot work.

Wales recorded 24 fires related to hot work across all regions. Unfortunately, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service were unable to provide data and we did not receive a response from the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service.

Thankfully, no region recorded a fatality as a result of hot work fires. However, the worst regions for casualties were Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire – with both areas recording 2 injuries.

How to avoid hot work fires

In this last section, we’d like to explore some of the main causes of hot work and how this can be prevented. To ensure safety, it’s paramount that anyone carrying out hot work tasks has a relevant permit and has received substantial training.

There are two main certifications that a hot work construction site and its team need.

Fire Risk Assessment for Hot Works: Before any hot work begins, the contractor should carry out a suitable risk assessment for any specific hot work tasks that will be part of the upcoming work. It should be submitted to the client, who then should check the Fire Risk Assessment to ensure that it is both suitable and sufficient. The responsibility for this lies with both the client and the contractor.

Hot Work Permit: This should ideally be issued by the client to the contractor at the site, just before the work begins. Working together, the client and the contractor should discuss the work, identifying any risks, and putting plans in place to mitigate them. Then, it’s important that both contractor and client sign the permit, as this shows that they both understand and agree to comply with the conditions. It’s best practice that the hot work permit is not issued for extended amounts of time – ideally, it should cover the work completed during a single shift. After issuing the permit, the client should take responsibility for ensuring that the contractor complies with the conditions, and the contractor should ensure that all the work they undertake follows what was agreed in the permit.

Furthermore, any equipment used for the task should be inspected prior to use. Firefighting equipment must be provided at the site where the work is to take place. The operatives working on the site should have been trained in using the equipment, and ideally, this training should have included discharging the fire extinguisher. Practical experience in using this equipment is different to understanding how it works, and any fire fighting equipment training should include both.

A useful guide is that all combustibles and flammable materials within a minimum 10-metre radius of the hot works should be removed. Sometimes combustibles cannot be removed because they are structurally part of the site, and in this case, they should be protected with heavy-duty fire blankets or drapes.

Operatives and managers involved in hot works should be given training such as a Hot Work Passport course.

There should be a dedicated fire watch person, who is not carrying out the hot works themselves, whose role it is to continually monitor for outbreaks of fire. This should continue for at least 2 hours after hot works have been completed unless a risk assessment says otherwise. The person taking on this role can use thermal imaging cameras to assist them.

Overall, we hope our latest investigation into hot work statistics in different UK regions has helped visualise the most affected regions, causes, and how to avoid this moving forward.

For more information on how to reduce the risk of fires caused by hot work, please find our extensive guide on how to reduce the risk of fires caused by hot works.


We contacted 50 fire and rescue services across the UK via Freedom of Information requests to retrieve data regarding fires in construction and fires caused by hot work in 2022/23.

Overall, we received 35 responses with relevant data and 10 responses where fire and rescue services were unable to provide the requested information. A total of 5 fire and rescue services have not replied to our FOI request.

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