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RCI Feb 2018

Reducing fire risks with hot air welding Gas torches are a popular tool for roofing professionals to use during the process of installing bitumen materials or for drying out roofs. However, when gas supplied torches do not conform to best practice guidelines, or are used incorrectly near potentially flammable abutment details, it can have catastrophic consequences – in the form of fires. As a result, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) launched the ‘Safe2Torch’ campaign in July 2017, with the aim of significantly reducing the risk of roof fires. It actively promotes and educates about safe working practices and safe specifications by identifying detailing situations where it is unsafe to torch, and then applying appropriate and alternative hot air methods. An overview of hot works Propane is the most common choice for gas torches used on roofing applications, as it is relatively cheap and widely available. Unfortunately, it is also highly flammable and a source of ignition when flammable materials are about. In 2013, a fire caused £17 million worth of damage at a hotel on the Isle of Man when a roofer was using a gas blow torch to dry out timber. The naked flame set fire to the flammable resins, causing substantial damage. Safe2Torch The NFRC launched Safe2Torch to encourage safer practices for those using gas torches for roof work and safer design specifications from the outset for responsible build processes. Architects, surveyors, and other contractors who design and specify roofing structures, which require hot works, need to assess the associated hazards and significantly reduce or remove the risks of fire involved. By identifying such hazards in the form of flammable abutment details and substrates, the specification will include a torch-free alternative solution, usually in the form of hot air technology i.e. no naked flame will be present. In the UK, this is generally provided in the form of 120V hot air welding or drying. Clive Day, technical director at Welwyn Tool Group, the UK distributor for LEISTER Hot Air Tools, said: “We recognise that as safety regulations on the roof become more prevalent, safe installation solutions are required. Fortunately, LEISTER has a comprehensive range of hot air welding equipment to meet all flameless membrane bonding and welding requirements on the rooftop.” Doug Ross, projects director at Bauder, further supports the Safe2Torch campaign. “All major manufacturers or system suppliers have adopted the NFRC’s Safe2Torch initiative, and the availability of high quality and reliable hot air tooling plays a major role in roofing contractors being able to deliver safer solutions on-site,” he said. “Bitumen waterproofing provides durability and a long service life, and hot air technology provides an alternative installation method to safely address waterproof detailing in potentially combustible areas.” The Safe2Torch campaign is designed to support specification designers to comply with the Construction Design and Management Regulations of 2015, and joins with the HSE led ‘Helping Great Britain Work Well’ strategy, which promotes a safer and healthier working environment. FLAT ROOFING & WATERPROOFING SYSTEMS www.polyglass.com Value through innovation Polyglass GB Ltd Unit 1 Electrium Point Ashmore Lake Way Willenhall West Midlands WV12 4LF T: 01902 637422 e: info@polyglass-gb.com PROTECTING YOUR ASSETS


RCI Feb 2018
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