No Sparks in the Pit?

While Dremel-ing can certainly be done safely, it can also present a serious injury risk. The incident I always share when questioned about the need for safety goggles comes from a Dremel, in which a cutting blade shattered and one portion went flying across the room and hit my glasses. While it’s certainly very possible to use Dremels in a safe manner, I don’t know if I trust the high school students (or even mentors) on other teams to be using them in that safe manner as they work in an unfamiliar and restricted environment (the pits) under the often intense time pressures of competition. Rather than enforcing the rules in a non-uniform fashion in which the safety advisors allow some teams to produce sparks and others to not produce sparks, I think it likely makes more sense to ban sparks all together.

With all things pit safety, the question isn’t really “do I trust myself/my team to do this safely” it’s “do I trust everyone at the event to do this safely.”


The discussion of safety around banning spark throwing grinding versus any grinding at all is valid, but I always thought this rule was there due to venue rules, not for safety. At off season events and scrimmages at high schools here in AZ I’ve encountered a rule of no metal cutting of any kind in the pits, because the school was concerned about damage to their flooring from metal shavings and swarf, and you would have to take parts outside to a designated cutting area to work on them. I would think a number of venues in FRC have blanket policies against all sparks and open flames for liability reasons and that FIRST just found it easier to write it into the admin manual as a policy for all event after handling confusion between some events allowing it while others banned it due to venue specific rules.