Hello – Happy Friday! Today’s post comes to you from Laura Moreno, Engineer in the Industrial and Chemical Engineering Department, at NFPA. Special thanks to Laura for her contribution to this blog while I am out on maternity leave, and discussing one of the many important subjects addressed in the Fire Code.
NFPA 1, Fire Code, 2015 edition, requires a permit for conducting hot work, and Chapter 41 of the Code mentions the Permit Authorizing Individual. Who is this Permit Authorizing Individual (PAI), and how does that differ from the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)?
The Permit Authorizing Individual (PAI) is someone designated by management who is responsible for safe hot work and authorizes the hot work. That can be the job supervisor, foreperson, property owner or representative, or health and safety administrator. On the other hand, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) is an organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing a code or standard. That could be a federal, state, or local official, fire marshal, building official, or even an insurance company representative.
The intent of our hot work standard (NFPA 51B, Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting, and Other Hot Work) and therefore NFPA 1 which extracts the requirements from the 2014 edition of NFPA 51B, is that the PAI goes through the permit process internally to make sure that the area is safe for hot work. He or she checks to see if there is an alternative to hot work, that the combustibles are protected or moved away from ignition sources, and that a fire watch is there if needed. Then, a permit can be authorized. We have a flow chart (see A.41.3.4 of NFPA 1) that helps you and the PAI determine if a hot work permit is required- for example, can the hot work be done in an area like a maintenance shop that is maintained fire-safe? Then you don’t need a hot work permit.
Some cities, like Boston, have a hot work permit process where the hot work team needs to apply for a permit through the city (or Authority Having Jurisdiction) before starting hot work. Starting January 2017, they require all hot work permit applicants to have received NFPA Hot Work Safety Training. In cases like this, you should go through the internal permitting process first with your PAI, and then you will have all the information you need when you file a permit with your AHJ.
For more information on hot work check out the May/June 2017 edition of NFPA Journal which discusses key lessons from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board investigations of hot work incidents. Or, sign up for NFPA's one day Hot Work Safety Certificate program.
Happy Friday, thanks for reading! Stay safe.