Ecclesiastical Insurance

Ecclesiastical Insurance

April 16, 2014 08:00 ET

'Hot Work'...The Cause of yet Another Church Fire

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 16, 2014) - The devastating fire that gutted the 135-year old Aurora United Church in Aurora, Ontario last week was a harsh reminder that vacant buildings and buildings under renovation are at increased risk for experiencing a fire loss. Fire Chief Ian Laing confirmed that the fire was caused by an open flame being used during the course of roof repairs. Colin Robertson, Vice-President Risk Control Services at Ecclesiastical Insurance, advises that "hot work" is often a common cause of ignition.

The term 'hot work' refers to work that produces an open flame, sparks, or any other likely ignition source. Welding, soldering, cutting and grinding, or activities involving the use of gases, flammable liquids, grinders and blowtorches, are considered hot work, and the risk of fire is heightened during these operations. To mitigate or reduce the potential for a fire loss resulting from hot work, it is recommended that a hot work protocol be implemented and adhered to and that the following steps be taken:

  1. Have a 'Hot Work Permit' system in place. The permit should include details such as the nature of the work, the location, time period allotted, completion date, a "final check" time, and a checklist of precautions that must be carried out.
  2. Hot work should only be carried out by qualified workers.
  3. Monitor all work being undertaken by contractors and ensure that contractors are aware of the location of fire extinguishers.
  4. A dry chemical fire extinguisher should be present on the work site while work is being completed.
  5. The worksite should be inspected daily by a responsible official while the work is ongoing, and a fire watch maintained for at least two hours following the completion of each day's work.
  6. Remove all combustible materials used for the work from the site at the end of each day. Store combustible building materials (e.g., flammable liquids, gas cylinders, paint, etc.) outside and well away from the building. Gas cylinders should not be left on the roof.
  7. Ensure that the area where the work is being completed is well ventilated.
  8. If possible, wet down the area before work is completed.
  9. No smoking on or near the work site.
  10. Remove all combustible materials within 30 feet of the work site. Combustible materials within the vicinity that cannot be removed should be covered with a fire-ΓÇïresistive shielding to avoid any contact with the flame.
  11. Ensure you have proof of insurance coverage from the contractor (i.e. a certificate of insurance).
  12. Inform your insurers of the work being done.

About Ecclesiastical Insurance

Working with brokers across Canada, Ecclesiastical Insurance provides customized insurance solutions to faith communities, educational institutions, retirement facilities, unique and heritage properties, cultural institutions, funeral services providers, registered charities and nonprofit organizations, as well as select commercial enterprises. Owned by a charitable trust, Ecclesiastical is committed to protecting those who enrich the lives of others. For more information visit

Contact Information

  • For information about Ecclesiastical's specialized products
    or Risk Control services, please contact:
    Colin Robertson
    Vice President, Risk Control
    (416) 484-3984