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Contractor Guidelines for Hot Work

Purpose and Requirements

Hot work has a significant impact on University operations such as fires, explosions, indoor air quality issues, incidental alarms, occupant disruptions. The following guidance document establishes requirements for contractors conducting hot work on campus grounds. Contractors are required to ensure compliance with applicable federal, state and local regulations as well as any specific requirements that are set in place by Cornell University. Some of these requirements include:

  • 29 CFR 1926.352 – Welding, and Cutting Fire Prevention
  • FCC Hot Work Program
  • New York State Fire Code (NYSFC) Chapter 35
  • City of Ithaca Fire Department section 181-9(23)(a)
  • Factory Mutual Global


This guidance document applies to all contractors on campus and is intended to prevent injury, loss of property, and disruption due to irresponsible hot work operations.



Shall meet or exceed Cornell University’s Hot Work Program requirements         

  • Contractor(s) shall make sure that a hot work permit is filled out correctly and is posted at the location of hot work operations.
  • Contractors are required to provide and use their own Hot Work Permit that shall meet or exceed FM Global Hot Work Permit.
  • Ensure that safety controls are implemented and are in good working condition. This means engineering controls such as local exhaust ventilation (LEV), general ventilation, and employees are wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Contractor(s) shall have their own fire watch person.
  • Contractor(s) shall follow the proper protocol to obtain a “Welding and Cutting” permit from the Ithaca Fire Department (IFD), Contract College AHJ, or other municipal authorities.
  • A copy of the valid permit shall be provided to the EHS OSHIP office.

Project Manager or equivalent

Shall oversee the project, and coordinate University resources and subject matter environment.

  • Ensure hot work operations comply with the requirements of this document
  • Considerations should be taken to mitigate indoor air quality, and other building related odors due to hot work operations.


Pre operation

  • Subject to the location and jurisdiction of the contract work, Contract College, and Ithaca City projects require a “Welding and Cutting” permit from the Ithaca Fire Department (IFD), or Contract College Authority Having Jurisdiction. This document must be maintained and available on-site and produced if requested. All requirements of the jurisdictional permit are to be followed.
  • If a facility’s fire protection alarms, devices or other fire protection equipment need to be impaired or shut down contact Cornell’s customer service at (607) 254-4636 to schedule an appointment.
  • Prior to hot work operations a Hot Work Permit is to be completed on site and to verify that The Safety Checklist has been reviewed. The contractor’s hot work process and permit must meet or exceed the FM Global Hot Work Permit requirements. Hot work permits are required to be completed and enacted before each hot work operation at each location on the project.
    • Meaning each hot work area shall have its own Hot Work Permit on display and readily available.

During operation

  • During the hot work process there shall be a fire watch person who is to watch for fires, smoldering material, or other signs of combustion.
    • The fire watch person is an individual, other than the hot work operator, used for specific circumstances. Fire watch duties and responsibilities can be found in the appendices section.
    • If an unwanted fire is discovered call Cornell Police at 911 or (607)255-1111
    • One fire watch person is permitted to perform fire watch duties for multiple hot work operations, if they can see all areas of hot work being conducted simultaneously.
  • The Hot Work Operator shall follow their hot work policy and procedure and conduct the hot work in a safe manor following proper protocol.
    • Be aware of hazards that are present or could become present during operation.
    • Make sure that the conditions remain safe during the operation and are responsible for stopping the work if hazardous conditions arise.
    • Have a fire extinguisher prepared for use and attempt to put out the fire if the fire is within its incipient stage.

Post operation  

  • During the post operation phase the fire watch must remain there for at least one-hour post operation in order to detect and extinguish any possible fires.
  • Contractor(s) must conduct a post operation area inspection to make sure the area or room is clear of any hazards due to the hot work process.
  • Hot work permits must be stored or retained for 1 year.

Barricades and Signage

  • Visible hazard identification barricades and signage shall be provided where required. Where the hot work area is accessible to persons other than the operator and fire watch of the hot work equipment, conspicuous barricades and signage shall be posted to warn others before they enter the hot work area.
  • Such signs shall display the following warning:
    • Caution Hot Work in Progress Stay Clear

Prohibited Conditions

  •  A Hot Work Permit will not be issued if any of the following conditions exist:
    1. Sprinkler protection is impaired.
    2. An entire building fire detection system is shut down.
    3. In the presence of explosive atmospheres, where mixture of flammable gases, vapors, liquids, or dusts may exist.
    4. The required extinguisher is not readily available.
    5. Combustible or flammable materials are within 35 feet and cannot be moved or protected, and a Fire Watch is not available.
    6. Floor and wall openings cannot be covered.
    7. Cutting or welding on pipes or other metals can conduct enough heat to ignite nearby combustible materials.
    8. In tanks, drums or other containers and equipment that contain or previously contained materials that could create explosive atmospheres.
    9. Any condition that could result in undue hazards by performing the work.

Appendix A.                  

Fire Watch Duties, Definition, Responsibilities  

The fire watch is an individual, other than the hot work operator, posted in specific circumstances shown below. The function of the fire watch is to observe the hot work and monitor conditions throughout the hot work, to ensure that a fire or explosion does not occur as a result of the work performed. The fire watch is authorized to stop any unsafe operation or activity.

A fire watch is required whenever protective measures are necessary for the following conditions:

  • Combustible materials are closer than 35ft to the point of operation and unprotected.
  • Combustible materials are more than 35ft away from the point of operation but are easily ignited by sparks.
  • Wall or floor openings within a 35ft radius expose combustible materials in adjacent areas, including concealed spaces in walls or floors.
  • Combustible materials are adjacent to the opposite side of partitions, walls, ceilings, or roofs and are likely to be ignited.

Specific duties and responsibilities include:

  • Completely dedicated to fire watch responsibilities and cannot be assigned other tasks that deviate from fire watch duties
  • Watch for fires, smoldering material or other signs of combustion.
  • Be trained to understand the inherent hazards of the work site and hot work.
  • Ensure that safe conditions are maintained during hot work operations and stop the hot work operations if unsafe conditions develop.
  • Have fire-extinguishing equipment readily available and be trained in its use.
  • Extinguish fires when the fires are obviously within the capacity of the equipment available. If the fire is beyond the capacity of the equipment, sound the alarm immediately or call Cornell Police at (607) 255-1111 or 911 from a safe location outside of the building.
  • Be familiar with the facilities and procedures for sounding an alarm in the event of a fire.
  • A fire watch shall be maintained for at least 1 hour after completion of hot work operations in order to detect and extinguish smoldering fires.
  • More than one fire watch shall be required if combustible materials that could be ignited by the hot work operation cannot be directly observed by a single fire watch (e.g. in adjacent rooms where hot work is done on a common wall).


  • The fire watch shall include the entire hot work area. Hot work conducted in areas with vertical or horizontal fire exposures that are not observable by a single individual shall have additional personnel assigned to fire watches to ensure that exposed areas are monitored.