Are You Sure You Closed Your Jobsite Properly?
by: Eddie Garcia, Territory Sales Manager, Roofmaster Products Company
A customer of mine recently mentioned a story about a contractor who was performing a torch down job on a commercial roof. The foreman and his crew were closing the site, and before leaving for the day, the foreman performed a visual and touch check on the deck to make sure it was cool and not a fire risk. Later that night, however, the foreman received a frantic call from the building owner because the building was engulfed in flames.
One thought immediately popped into my head. Did the foreman walk the whole roof? Maybe the foreman only checked the immediate areas where the torches were being used. Something can accidentally begin to overheat at the end of the day, and workers packing up may not notice a small fire that can quickly turn into a big disaster after hours.
There are several regulations that OSHA has in place that help reduce the likelihood of a fire hazard, including: a fire extinguisher must be accessible for all torch-down operations; a fire extinguisher is needed 50' of anywhere where more than five gallons of flammable or combustible liquids or five pounds of flammable gas are being used on a jobsite; no one on the jobsite can be more than 100' from a fire extinguisher at all times; there must be at least one fire extinguisher for 3,000 sq. ft. of a work area; a fire watch person should be posted to immeadiately address any possible smolders or flare-ups; and the fire watch person should remain on post for 30 minutes after the torch-down job is finished for the day.
Per torch-down OSHA requirements for working with torches, at a minimum roofing professionals should have proper fire extinguishers and an infrared thermometer to scan the deck for hot spots that are undetectable to the human eye.
Contractors and foreman should take caution when it comes to torch-down roofs and be sure to thoroughly inspect all areas of the roof before shutting down for the day. Additionally, with the help of tools, such as an infrared thermometer, roofing professionals can assure that their jobsite is safe for the evening or weekend.