More popularly known as the rubberized asphalt, the torch roofing system is commonly used in flat roofs. Basically the concept of torch-applied roofing system involves melting asphalt using a torch to create an impermeable roof. However, torch applications are highly hazardous to both roofers and the public. Roofing workers may suffer serious burns from the torch and high temperatures can possibly start a fire. Most roofers are not insured for the fire hazard that’s involved in the application of this system. This is the main reason why most manufacturers no longer permit direct torch application to wood substrates. Still, in view of the overwhelming demand of torch roofing, roofers readily take on the job albeit the risks involved in its application.
The pervasive demand for torch-applied systems greatly influenced by the flexibility of applications under various weather conditions. In areas that have below-freezing temperatures, torch roofing is a welcome alternative since it can be applied under any weather condition. However, the relatively high figure of incidences of roof fires evidently caused by torching operations prompted several roofing contractors association to provide their members with group-funded insurance. This is also due to the fact that most insurance carriers refuse to provide insurance for building contractors who are offering torch roofing services.
Torch-related fires have significantly declined since the implementation of the National Torch Safety Program in 2003. However there are still some risks involved that still cannot be addressed by the training program. The bigger issue is the structural designs both in residential and commercial sectors, which are mostly wood frame constructions. The nature of materials used in buildings pose particular risks since they are highly susceptible to fire.
In Canada, the biggest construction loss occurred in Downsview, Toronto in the year 1999. An entire condominium complex with wood frame construction was practically reduced to ashes after accidentally ignited by a roofing worker’s torch. Such devastating events have caused roofing contractors to reject projects that require the use of the torch roofing system.
Since the risks associated in this type of application, manufacturers have come up with alternatives such as the cold-process roofing applications. Manufacturers have introduced self-adhering membranes that are available in the market nowadays to hopefully reduce the necessity to the use torch roofing systems. Although there is a demand for this application system, they are still restricted to warm-weather conditions. Indications show that torch roofing system will still be the prevalently preferred method. Hence, the safety and security in the use of this system will still be a cause of concern to contractors and insurance companies.