Slow Burner or bright Spark - Common Causes of Ignition Associated with Welding

by Rapid Welding 24. July 2012 13:53

I came across this article regarding a recent fire thought to be related to the storage of welding equipment. Fire crews involved believe a welding tool set light to flammable materials and caused a large blaze in a hangar at a former airfield in Lincolnshire. Six fire engines was sent to Manby showground, near Louth, at about 17:00 BST on Monday 9th July. At the height of the blaze the thick plumes of black smoke were tackled by ten fire engines. Police said there had been "small explosions" as a result of the flames, and it is thought there were gas canisters inside the hangar.

   Did stored welding equipment do this?


Combustible materials kept where welding processes are being carried out can give sufficient exposure to heat and oxygen to burn. It’s a warning to professional and hobbyist welders alike to know about potential fire hazards and safe practices, to examine work areas, welding equipment and consumables for hazards, and take appropriate measures to ensure safety.

Common Causes of Ignition Associated with Welding:

·         Slag – droplets of melted metal from a welding operation.

·         Heat conducted through the metal being welded.

·         Welding sparks – have been known to travel as much as 35 feet!

·         The flame or welding arc. E.g. if the torch is dropped or it malfunctions.

The Warren Group

In the case of the fire at Manby, it was reported that the hanger in question was used to store machinery such as old buses and forklifts. Flammable materials like wood, paper, plastics, chemicals, gas and liquids, lint, dust, old rags, even building floors, partitions and ceilings may pose a risk where hot work is being carried out.


Fires can ignite suddenly and violently, but they can also smolder away undetected for hours before flaring up. A clean work area is a must, devoid of clutter, holes, openings etc, where droplets of hot metal can burn away slowly.



"One of the most important fire prevention activities is maintaining a high standard of cleanliness and order." Aviva


Welding on tanks or pipes that have contained flammable liquids or gases - tanks or pipes should be emptied and thoroughly cleaned, then tested for flammable residue before welding begins.


Welding with Acetylene is extremely flammable and hazardous due to its unstable nature – Hampshire Fire & Rescue recommends correct storage of cylinders, testing equipment, and staff training.




Un-serviced, faulty or leaking equipment is a known fire risk.


Lack of training to staff in safety practices during use and when equipment is left unattended, for example, failing to turn all power switches off after use or report defective equipment to supervisors.



You could have nightmares about this sort of thing, but when you read about it in the papers it brings the very real risk home to us all. The bottom line is fire can cause uninsured damage, significant harm and loss of life.

Detailed advice should be sought regarding all aspects of Health and Safety.


Rapid Welding is a highly respected sales and service company and our own service engineers have full factory training. Should you have any queries regarding your products, please contact Rapid via the website or on 02392 214214.






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