Fire caused by hot work

A member has reported an incident in which a small fire was caused by hot work taking place on the deck above. The incident occurred when a repair was being performed by a sub-contractor on a steel plate in the forecastle area. The job involved using an oxy-acetylene torch to remove an old corroded plate. During this activity, the oxy-acetylene cutting of the plate caused heat transfer from the forecastle deck area to the store-man’s office area (located directly below the place where the hot work was being carried out). As a result, glowing slag fell on the store-man’s chair, which caught fire. There was no-one in the storeman’s office at the time. The fire detection equipment in the office caused the alarm to go off. There were no injuries.

Fire-damaged chair after the event
Fire-damaged chair after the event

Our member’s investigation revealed the following:

  • Immediate causes:
    • Fire watch location was not well planned by supervision;
    • Melt slag felt on top of the store-man’s chair.
  • Root Causes:
    • Failure to control and conduct of safe work (permit to work planning failed);
    • Failed check of the workplace;
    • Inadequate risk assessment (warning about the smell of smoke in the store-man’s office was not investigated by the fire watcher).

Our member took the following preventative and corrective measures:

  • Held discussion with all parties involved to ensure all understand their responsibilities;
  • Ensured that any spaces identified as at risk of heat transfer from hot work are identified in the appropriate section of the job risk analysis beforehand;
  • Raised awareness of correct identification of adjoining compartments/spaces in regard to hot work and heat transfer through bulkheads, decks, etc.;
  • Double check (second pair of eyes) to identify any deck penetrations to improve spatial awareness;
  • Ensure fire detection system is fully functional during hot work.