Fire needs three things to occur: oxygen, fuel, and ignition. Remove any element of the “fire triangle” and combustion is impossible.
Oxygen is a given in just about any circumstance in which a plumbing contractor is likely to be working. Fuel is also likely to be present in the form of wood, other building materials, flammable liquids and gases, or in some other form.
That leaves ignition as the element that can most easily be controlled. And that’s one reason why pressing is better than soldering, particularly in confined spaces.
Soldering in tight quarters, like inside a wall or a plenum space, requires manipulating an air/acetylene torch with a 1700 °F flame while keeping it away from anything that might burn. It’s easy for accidents to occur.
According to a National Fire Protection Association report, soldering equipment caused 650 fires in the U.S. from 2013-17, resulting in two deaths, 27 injuries and $30 million in property damage. The figures for welding torches in the same period were 640 fires, three deaths, 27 injuries and $35 million in damages.
Using a press tool and some swiveling rings eliminates the need for flame in a confined space. And as a bonus, it’s also faster.
If fire does break out in a confined space, like an attic or crawlspace, it can be difficult for the contractor to exit safely in time. Working with a flame sometimes requires another worker to stand fire watch. Plus, when working in confined spaces, a safety watch is usually required. While necessary, those are added expenses, plus it might mean pulling a worker off another part of the job. Reducing the time spent in these conditions is an inherent benefit of press. A safety watchperson might still be required, but quicker completion means less impact on cost. Reducing time in confined spaces also reduces worker risk.
Of course, there are some places where the risk of a fire or explosion are so great that it’s extremely dangerous or impossible to use a flame, like in hospitals, oil refineries, chemical plants, etc. In those cases, pressing is the only safe solution.
When a safer, faster alternative like pressing is available, working with flame poses an unnecessary risk.