Welding fires are more common than people may think. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), welding and cutting account for 1% of structure fires and 4% of property damage. Though many companies and welders take the proper precautions and wear the correct gear, welding fires are always a possibility. Here are some tips that can help prevent the possibilities of welding fires:
Whether you are an expert, student, or welding hobbyist, acknowledging that welding fires can occur, even when being extremely cautious, is always key to being safe.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Though welding safety begins with you, your surrounding area also plays a big role in fire prevention. Before welding, you should always check the space you are working in, whether it is inside your shop or out in the field. Remove any fire hazards and be sure that your welding area is free of any unnecessary materials. Keep flammable materials as far away as possible. Also, check for holes and cracks in your workspace as flying sparks and molten metal can get caught in those openings and may start to smolder or ignite. There should always be a clear 35-foot distance surrounding your workspace since sparks are continuously flying. Being cautious of your surroundings by looking for these key indicators can help prevent fires.
Always Wear Appropriate Gear
Personal protection equipment (PPE) is designed to keep the operator safe from physical injury. Wearing the proper PPE not only can prevent you from personal injury and burns, but it also can thwart fires. Since you are exposed to a constant stream of sparks and molten metals, your PPE ensures that they do not get lodged into your sleeves, pockets, pants cuffs, or shirt collars, which then leads to preventing fires. Welders should always wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and avoid synthetic clothing.
Try to Extinguish the Issue
Even when you are following all welding safety precautions, you should always have a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case a fire does happen. Fire extinguishers are most effective in the early stages of a fire. according to the National Association of Fire Equipment Distributors’ The Effectiveness of Portable Fire Extinguishers: An Overview 1976 – 2010, when utilized properly, fire extinguishers effectively put out 95% of fires. Some people may not even know that there are two types of fire extinguishers: Type A and Type B. Type A extinguishers are most efficient in eliminating fires caused by combustible solids like wood, paper, and clothing. Type B extinguishers are most effective on combustible liquids like grease, paint thinner, and oils. Being aware of the differences between the two extinguishers can be lifesaving; always be sure to have one close by, make sure that it’s up to date, and that you know how to use it properly.
Education is Key
Education and having the right knowledge are key in ensuring your safety and that of others. Not only should you be educated, but your peers, supervisors, and company should keep up with the proper education and safety guidelines. Courses like Aviation Institute of Maintenance’s Combination Welding program not only teach you the correct techniques on how to weld, but it teaches you the number one rule when it comes to welding: safety. Whether you are an expert, student, or welding hobbyist, acknowledging that welding fires can occur, even when being extremely cautious, is always key to being safe. Use these guidelines to help keep you and your workplace safe! To learn more about our programs visit Aviation Institute of Maintenance.
About Aviation Institute of Maintenance
Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) is a network of aviation maintenance schools with campuses coast-to-coast in the United States and headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va. AIM students are trained to meet the increasing global demand of commercial, cargo, corporate, and private aviation employers. AIM graduates are eligible to take the Federal Aviation Administration exams necessary to obtain their mechanic’s certificate with ratings in both Airframe and Powerplant. AIM’s campuses are in the following major metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, San Francisco Bay, Orlando, and Norfolk. Learn more at www.AviationMaintenance.edu or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AIM.edu.