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By: Craig Pagano on June 26th, 2024

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5 Basic Fire Safety Tips for Welders

safety | welding

According to the most recent data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 3,396 structure fires caused by welding or hot work between 2017 and 2021. Welding torches were the primary cause cited in the majority of the fires. The good news is that welding and hot work fires are preventable when the right precautions are taken.

It’s critical for welders, both professional and hobbyist, to fully understand fire safety practices, as well as how to respond should a fire start. That means understanding the possible ignition sources and potential dangers, even from seemingly innocuous sources.

By nature, welding is a controlled fire hazard, producing sparks and hot slag that can easily ignite any combustible material they land on. Flammable vapors in the welding area can also result in a fire. The American Welding Society states that sparks can fly as far as 35 feet from the work area, and even further when falling vertically from an elevated platform. The hazard from traveling sparks becomes even more amplified if those sparks land in a crack or crevice.


welding sparks

Most common sources of welding-related combustion:

  • Flammable gases, vapors, liquids and powders or dusts (sawdust, accumulated household dust, etc.)
  • Dry leaves, grass, brush in the vicinity of the welding area
  • Miscellaneous home or building contents like furniture, wood, clothing, papers, etc.
  • Structural components like flooring, wall partitions, and roofs


5 Basic Welding Fire Safety Tips:

  • Clear the area of any combustibles or put up guards: Ensure the area is free from any of the combustibles listed above. If the location doesn’t allow items to be moved, use fire-safe guards to confine the heat, slag and sparks to the work area.
  • Protect flooring cracks and holes in walls: Inspect the flooring and walls in the work area to ensure there are no cracks, holes or crevices where slag or sparks could enter and start an unseen fire.
  • Employ a fire watcher with appropriate safety equipment: Always have a fire watcher standing by with a working fire extinguisher. Fire watchers should wear protective clothing and be prepared to sound a fire alarm if the flame cannot be quickly extinguished. Additionally, fire watchers should stay on watch for at least 30 minutes after work stops to detect any invisible, smoldering fires.

  • Completely uncoil hoses and keep gas canisters at a safe distance: Uncoiling hoses prevents them from bouncing or moving involuntarily during the welding process. Tanks should always be well outside of spark and slag travel distances. 

  • Ensure there’s adequate ventilation and clean surface areas: Never weld or apply heat to a container or surface that has been in contact with unknown chemicals or other substances. Drums, barrels and tanks should be thoroughly cleaned to remove any greases, tars, acids, etc. before welding. Verify that the area has proper ventilation to allow any gases or vapors to escape, as well as help clear the air from smoke and fumes.

More safety tips at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration website.


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