Nationwide Recoveries

Contractor Held Accountable After Violating Fire Code While Performing Hot Work

A contractor was hired to repair the hot water heating system at the insured’s sawmill. Several hours after the contractor left the jobsite, employees of the sawmill discovered a fire in the sawdust collection room located adjacent to the boiler room. Our investigation revealed that the contractor’s repair work included the use of a welding torch, and that an opening existed between the boiler room and the sawdust collection room. A fire investigator retained by Stutman Law opined that sparks created by the contractor’s welding work caused sawdust in the adjacent room to smolder for several hours before breaking out into open flame. The contractor argued that the opening in the wall had been made by employees of the sawmill only one week prior to the contractor’s service call, and that the sawmill had failed to cover the opening or warn the contractor of the opening’s existence. Relying on the National Fire Protection Association’s standards pertaining to “hot” work, Stutman Law resolved the claim after establishing that the contractor had violated the fire code by failing to carefully examine the work area and cover the opening in the wall prior to using the welding torch.