The NFRC recently issued new guidelines for safe practice when using gas torches in roofing.
Developed in partnership with NFRC members, Safe2Torch is about minimising fire risk when using gas torches to install Torch On membranes or drying out roof surfaces. To support they have issued a Guidelines booklet and a checklist to complete before work starts, with advice on common issues and ‘myths’ – some guidelines are more obvious, others less so.
Martin Fisher, Technical Manager at IKO PLC, has been closely involved in the process, and comments: “These guidelines directly affect at least 50% of all the flat roofs installed in the UK, so it’s a serious issue. Having a clear guide to hot works at each stage from specification to completion is a great contribution to safety at work. Torch On is one of the most cost-effective, widely-used procedures, however there will be areas on most roofs where it isn’t suitable. In practice, IKO as the supplier will provide a specification which takes into account the areas where it’s OK to use Torch On, and suggest alternative products – adhered, self-adhesive membranes or cold applied liquids – where it’s not suitable.”
WHAT DO THE GUIDELINES COVER?
The Guidelines include pre-work checks and assessments of the substrate. For example, you should never apply a torch directly to a timber roof deck or timber upstands, including timber fillets – even if the substrate has been treated with a bituminous primer. They also explain how propane cylinders should be stored (e.g. upright and away from site, in a lockable gas cage when not in use) and the type of hose required (orange, and armoured if used for heating bitumen). The Guidelines also shows pictures of areas where torch-free alternatives should be considered, including; hanging tiles, rooflight kerbs and upstands, and confined spaces. Common types of extinguishers, water, dry-powder, foam, or CO2, are covered too and what fires they can be used on.
THE SAFE2TORCH CHECKLIST
This is for anyone preparing a specification, detailing areas where Torch On application shouldn’t be used. If any boxes are ticked, use a torch-free alternative in these areas:
Decks and insulation:
- Timber / Other combustible materials
- Metal deck (refurbishment) where old materials may accumulate in the troughs
- Insulation – unless specifically designed and tested for use with Torch On membranes
- Expansion joints with voids and/or combustible fillers
- Fibreboard or timber fillets
- Detail under all abutments to roof tiles, slates and thatch
- Detail under cladding/rendering
- All abutments with open cavities (open perpends)
- All timber substrates
- Change in level details with fixed timber or plastic fascias and/or all soffits, gutters or restricted spaces
- Window sills and frames, door sills, louvered vents, air ducts, intakes and outtakes
- Junctions to existing waterproofing with flammable insulation/deck materials
- Vulnerable plastic curbs, domes, pipes and the like
- Working when in close proximity to potentially flammable coatings
Existing weathering components with concealed flammable materials, these include:
- Timber, DPC or sarking membranes beneath fixed metal capping systems
- Existing kitchen extraction plant coated in oils or fats
- Flammable wrapping to trunking/ducting
- Timber cladding
- Existing metal or plastic copings/cappings
REGISTER WITH SAFE2TORCH NOW!
All NFRC contractor members who work in flat roofing need to become Safe2Torch Registered, and should be trained on the guidance, either by manufacturers, or the NFRC via webcasts and approved courses. However, if you’re not a member of NFRC, you can become a supporter for Safe2Torch. Pledging support means that you have read and understood the guidance and are committed to promoting and implementing the campaign and you will receive a certificate, which can be displayed on site.
For more information visit the website here.