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Hot Work Permits FAQs

Is a Hot Work Permit required by code?

Yes. A permit system for Hot Work is required by the State Fire Prevention Code and OSHA.

Is complying with code the only reason for having a Hot Work permit system?

No. While it is important to comply with the codes, a Hot Work permit system helps the University maintain control of Hot Work operations to avoid injuries and losses from fires. Due to the hazardous nature of all types of Hot Work operations, millions of dollars in damage is caused each year around the country. UMD has suffered a number of serious fires related to Hot Work including the Mitchell Building, Symons Hall, Physics Building, and the Center for Gravity Research. A Hot Work permit system provides the following advantages: 1) workers are reminded of required safety precautions and responsibilities, 2) smoke detectors can be temporarily bypassed to avoid false alarms, 3) the fire department is notified in order to help them assess an incident in locations where Hot Work is being performed.

What is Hot Work?

Hot Work is any activity that creates heat, flame, sparks, or smoke. Examples of Hot Work include but are not limited to: Welding (gas or arc), Cutting, Grinding, Brazing, Soldering, use of Open Flame Heaters in Buildings, and Hot Tar Operations.

Has ESSR done anything to make it quicker and easier to obtain and use Hot Work permits?

Yes. ESSR has placed the Hot Work Permit online. It is available through the ESSR web page at Permits may be filled out and printed right at the shop at any time of the day or night. Additionally, permits may be valid for extended periods of time.

Who is responsible for assuring that Hot Work is done in a safe manner and that all precautions have been taken?

Workers are responsible for the safety of the Hot Work operation. The person who is ultimately in charge, whether it is a supervisor or some one else, depends on the department. However, everyone involved in the operation is important when it comes to doing the work safely. ESSR will provide assistance on safety issues and should be contacted when needed.

Why does a firewatcher have to remain on the job site for 30 minutes after the completion of Hot Work?

Most fires associated with Hot Work occur after the work has been completed. A spark that landed in an unnoticed location may smolder. It takes time for the fire to grow to a point where flame and smoke are visible. By that point the workers may have left the site.

Is a permit needed for Hot Work that is performed outside a building?

Yes. A permit is required if the work will occur within 40 feet of a building or potential hazard such as a fuel storage tank. All Hot Work in confined spaces requires a permit regardless of location.

Is a Hot Work permit needed in a maintenance shop?

No. A permit is not required in maintenance shops and instructional areas where Hot Work is routinely performed. All safety precautions must be taken.

Do contractors need Hot Work permits?

Yes. All contractors are required to obtain a permit.

Do I need to check for smoke detectors in the area where Hot Work is to be performed? Who do I contact for an outage? What if there is a fire alarm activation?

Yes. Persons performing Hot Work must check for smoke detectors in the area that they will be working. This is necessary to avoid unwanted alarm activations. Facilities Management Customer Service Center (301) 405-2222 must be contacted in advance of the work to schedule an outage for the smoke detectors. If a smoke detector activates during Hot Work, the building must be evacuated and the fire department must be notified by calling 911. Tell the emergency 911 operator what happened. Wait for the fire department to arrive and meet with them. Do not reenter the building until the alarm is reset.

Are there specific requirements for tar kettles?

Yes. Tar kettles are not permitted to be located inside of or on the roof of any building. The kettle must be operated in a controlled area which must be identified by the use of traffic cones, barriers, and other suitable means. An operating kettle must be attended by a minimum of one employee who is knowledgeable of the operations and hazards. The employee must be within 25 ft of the kettle and have the kettle within sight. Two 20-B:C type fire extinguishers must also be located and visible within 25 ft of the operating kettle. Kettles must not block, or be closer than 10 ft from, exits or means of egress. Kettles must not block roadways, gates or entrances.

Who can I contact for more information or if I need assistance?

The following individuals can be contacted at ESSR during normal business hours or 24 hours a day through the University of Maryland Police at (301) 405-3555.

Fire Marshal's Office
(301) 405.3960


For Emergencies: 911 or (301) 405-3333 (Direct to UMPD)

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