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Church Fire Damage Preparedness and Education
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Church fires typically result from arson or vandalism and are often serious, simply because many churches sit largely unoccupied for extended periods of time. This means that any fire that starts has ample opportunity to grow and spread, many times resulting in a fully involved blaze by the time it is discovered and reported.
Because of the character of church building occupancy, very few of the common home fire hazards are present in churches; however, inferior construction, defective lighting and heating installations, combined with poor supervision and maintenance are what usually result in church fires.
Many smaller churches are built by the labor of their members which means the level and quality of the construction may not be the best. A lack of funds may mean that proper fire prevention systems or extinguishing units are either not properly maintained or not purchased at all. It is of utmost importance to develop a method of maintenance and care to stay ahead of any potential issues.
Defective furnaces and stoves account for over thirty-five percent of church fires with defective wiring being the next most common cause. If there is an expense that should be prioritized, it needs to be acquiring the services of a qualified electrician to sign off on the various systems and connections that comprise the church’s electrical needs.
Heating equipment should be properly installed and adequate protection provided for any nearby flammable materials, including the wood work. Chimneys and flues should be kept clean and in good operating condition, since chimney fires can easily spread to other areas of the structure. Worn out or obsolete electrical wiring should be replaced and only the proper fuses should be used in fuse and electrical boxes.
Churches are often targets of lightning strikes due to their size and nature of their construction. Lightning rods should be strategically placed to deflect lightning strikes and protect the structure.
Organ motors and wiring should be professionally installed and inspected each year and the property should be kept locked and secure when not in use in order to discourage vandals or arsonists.
Many churches make use of candles, but these should be used with the utmost caution. Fire extinguishers should be located throughout the facility and properly maintained. The local fire department should also make a detailed fire prevention inspection of the facility.
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