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Introducing the 2017 Safety Watch Electrical Loss Prevention Series

Electrical issue sparks fire at church.” “Firefighters save church after electrical fire erupts.” “Electrical short blamed for church fire.” Recent headlines such as these are all too common when it comes to the cause of fire at churches. A study by the National Fire Protection Association reported that more than 25 percent of church fires stemmed from electrical, lighting or heating equipment, causing millions of dollars in damage each year. But beyond the damage, ministry is impacted, congregations are displaced, historical papers or artifacts are threatened, and injuries or even loss of life can occur when a fire breaks out in a church building.

Houses of worship are uniquely susceptible to electrical risks for the following reasons:

  • Electrical systems in these buildings tend to be older than those in typical commercial properties
  • Buildings are updated in phases or stages, and electrical systems are not necessarily included in the updates
  • Buildings are unoccupied for substantial periods of time during the week
  • The addition of substantial electrical demands (audio-visual, lighting or media) onto an existing system that is not designed for the load
  • The use of extension cords for permanent wiring due to the increased electrical demand for office equipment, audio-visual equipment, appliances and holiday decorations
  • Lack of electrical preventive maintenance
  • Use of volunteers to assist with electrical projects rather than licensed professional electricians

To assist you and your congregation in addressing electrical risks, GuideOne Insurance is collaborating with Hartford Steam Boiler, our equipment breakdown reinsurer, to share a series of monthly articles in Safety Watch focusing on electrical loss prevention. Forthcoming topics in this series include:

  • How to pick a qualified electrician – and why it’s important to hire one
  • Issues with electrical systems that are more than 30 years old
  • Recurring electrical problems to watch for, how to store combustibles and the risks of temporary wiring
  • What is an electrical preventive maintenance program – and why does my church need one?
  • What you need to know about surge protection devices

We look forward to sharing this important information with you over the coming months, and hope to provide useful tools to help your house of worship avoid being one of the hundreds of churches that may experience an electrical-related fire or surge damage in 2017.

© 2023 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. 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.