Playing with fire: Welding fires spark need for improved safety measures

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island — The fire that engulfed a repair facility in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in late April has since been linked to welding work that was underway at the time.

What started as routine repairs in the workshop garage quickly turned into hell that caused the roof of Mechanical Performance Auto Service on Brackley Point Road to collapse, and the entire building was declared a total loss.

Fire inspectors did not specify what about the weld likely caused the fire to start, however, the blaze was large enough that it took firefighters nearly four hours to set it free. ‘switch off.

It would be unproductive to speculate on what, if anything, went wrong during the weld, or the shop conditions before the fire, although these incidents would prove an opportune time for a recall on the fire safety when welding vehicles.

The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) suggests that a welder’s first step, before even getting their hands on their tools, is to inspect their work area for flammable or potentially combustible materials. . This includes everything from spilled oils or liquids, cardboard boxes, paint cans, rags – even dry leaves strewn across the floor should be swept up before any welding.

If floor space is inflexible, flame retardant materials and screens can be installed around the welding area to contain stray sparks.

Another often overlooked safety recommendation for store owners is to inspect the floors and walls of their store for holes and cracks. Sparks generated by welders can land inside cracks in your floor or walls and smolder, greatly increasing the risk of a building fire.

It is also recommended that there is adequate time between all activities that could eject foreign particles into the air, such as sanding or painting, so that any potential airborne fire hazard can be properly filtered out. production space.

If you just can’t handle any of these things, please just have a fire extinguisher handy before you start welding – managers are usually thankful they don’t see a pile of rubble where was their studio.

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Susan W. Lloyd