- A fire broke out Saturday at the under-construction $1.1 billion Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. There were no injuries at the 40,000-seat future home of the Texas Rangers, according to the Arlington Fire Department.
- The department said it responded to a two-alarm fire at the Manhattan Construction Co.-led project and found "significant smoke and flames" emanating from a subfloor near the fifth floor of the ballpark. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze within 37 minutes after arriving on the scene. A preliminary investigation by the fire department found that combustibles on a subroof below the fire were ignited by sparks from a welder. Greg McClure, vice president of Manhattan, said that "limited" metal decking will have to be replaced and that about 2,000 square feet of roofing must be removed, inspected and replaced. Because the roof is retractable, it requires unusually long structural steel spans of more than 600 linear feet, Manhattan Construction Vice President of Operations Jim Cuddihee told Construction Dive last month.
- McClure said that Manhattan does not anticipate any delays to the opening of the stadium, which is scheduled for March. Both the fire department and Manhattan said investigations into the incident will continue.
The fire department added in its statement that the size of large projects on the scale of Globe Life Field present accessibility and other challenges when responding to a fire. However, the Arlington Fire Department has preplanned for such an event and has also been conducting fire response training at the stadium. "The existing working relationship with Texas Rangers and Manhattan Construction," said the fire department, "helped facilitate a quick and effective fire containment and control operation."
OSHA construction regulations require that when welding, if the objects that are to be welded cannot be moved, then movable fire hazards in the area should be moved or protected. No welding should be done in the presence of flammable paints, other flammable compounds or heavy dust concentrations. If the prescribed methods of fire prevention are not sufficient, then the contractor must assign employees as needed to guard against fire, also known as fire watchers.
A few years ago, the Pennsylvania DOT levied a $3.3 million liquidated-damages charge against a contractor after a fire erupted while the company was performing work on the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh. According to PennDOT, the fire, which shut down the bridge for 24 hours, started when hot slag resulting from welding operations caught a PVC pipe on fire, which, in turn, caused a tarp fire. The heat from the fire was so hot that PennDOT felt it necessary to check the integrity of bridge supports after the fire was extinguished.
Because the contractor, Joseph B. Fay Co., did not pull a permit for hot work, which includes welding, inspectors did not have the necessary information to perform a fire inspection, according to PennDOT. The city would have also required a fire watcher to be present during welding, although Fay said it had its own team of fire watchers with hoses and extinguishers on the bridge at the time the fire erupted.
OSHA provides recommendations for setting up a hot work safety program. Some of the agency's tips include:
- Fire watchers must monitor the area where hot work took place from 60 minutes to three hours after the work stops, depending on the potential for fire.
- Cover combustibles materials with fire-resistant blankets or shields.
- Keep combustible floors wet or covered with fire-resistant blankets or damp sand.
- Make sure that all equipment is in proper working order.