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Is Your Church Safe from Fire?

Fires can be devastating to say the least. They can cause death, injury, emotional turmoil and property damage. That’s why it’s important to keep fire safety top-of-mind at your organization. New for 2013, the risk management experts at SafeChurch have put together a Fire Safety for Churches training module. This training module includes a highlight video of the common fire hazards churches face, along with a number of indoor and outdoor fire safety tips. Reduce the chances of a fire occurring at your organization today by learning more about Arson, electrical hazards, and kitchen fires.


Arson is one of the leading causes of fire in the United States, with an annual cost of $1 billion. The mental and emotional loss of a church building due to arson can be as great as the physical damage itself. The following are some tips for how to prevent arson from occurring at your church:

  • Decrease the chances that an arsonist will strike by implementing an arson and crime prevention program.
  • Illuminate the exterior of your building, including doors and parking lots.
  • Keep track of and limit the disbursement of building keys. Consider installation of a keyless electronic entry system.
  • Trim shrubs and tree limbs around windows and doors to eliminate potential hiding places for arsonists and criminals.
  • Make sure smoke and heat detectors are operational and fire extinguishers are in place and have been regularly serviced.
  • Install a central monitored security/fire detection system. Also consider a fire sprinkler system.

Electrical Hazards

Some of the most common electrical hazards are often the easiest to identify and control, and are not expensive to correct. However, if left unchecked, they can lead to a major fire for your church and congregation. The following are some of the most common hazards:

  • Missing covers on junction boxes, switches and outlets;
  • Broken or unsupported light fixtures;
  • Electrical breaker panels without appropriate cover;
  • Missing breakers or other openings between breakers;
  • Taped or physically secured breakers in the “ON” position.

Kitchen Fires

Commercial grade kitchens are a common feature found in many churches today, as religious institutions are providing meals for daycares, soup kitchens, meals-on-wheels, and other similar operations. When a church chooses to acquire the responsibility of operating a commercial grade kitchen, many safety considerations should be addressed. The following tips focus on specific issues associated with providing sufficient fire safety for your church kitchen:

  • Install an automatic fire suppression system protecting any cooking equipment that produces grease or grease laden vapors. Servicing of this system by a qualified contractor should be done every six months.
  • If you have a deep fat fryer, a 16-inch clearance must be maintained between the deep fat fryer and any open flame producing appliance.
  • All deep fat fryers should be equipped with a high temperature limiting device, which will shut off the fuel or energy in the event the cooking oil exceeds a temperature of 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • A hood and ventilation system should be installed.
  • Hoods, grease-removal devices, fans, ducts and other equipment should be serviced by a qualified contractor at intervals necessary to prevent the accumulation of grease.

Even a small fire can cause extensive smoke and water damage. Safeguard your church from fire by taking advantage of the new Fire Safety for Churches video and other fire safety resources that can be found under the Facility Safety category on the Resources page.

© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.