Protecting our Church Buildings from Fire


Memorial Baptist Church Fire /  1

When we think about disasters we typically think about large events such as Hurricane Katrina. While Katrina was one of the largest disasters ever to affect our nation, the truth is that disasters of all sizes affect people and churches every single day.

The Massachusetts Conference Disaster Resource Team was established to help churches respond to disasters in their communities and which may affect the congregation. One topic that has challenged far too many congregations is fire in the church building. Each year, in local and national news, we hear about a fire in a church. While we all know that the church is not a building, the loss of a building due to fire is often devastating for a congregation. This is especially true when the building has historic significance. Here are some items for your church safety checklist:

  • While insurance cannot stop a fire, it can help replace a building and assist the congregation as it recovers from this loss. It is vital that insurance be kept up to date by periodic reviews. Consider reviewing your coverage with your insurance agent. You can visit the UCCIB website at www.insuranceboard.org/
     
  • Fire prevention is important in any church structure. Inspections of heating and electrical systems can locate potential hazards before there is a loss. Since church fires are sometimes the result of vandalism is it important to review the security of church buildings.
     
  • Attention should be paid to the means of evacuating the church in the event of fire. Are all exits in working order, with the proper type of “panic hardware” that allows for easy egress? Has the Sunday School developed an evacuation plan? Have you considered holding a fire drill? Are your smoke detectors in working order?
     
  • Fire detection is often overlooked, but it is vital to churches. Church buildings are often unoccupied for long periods of time but the possibility of fire caused by accidental or malicious means still exists. A fire in an unoccupied building has more time to spread before detection. Fire alarm systems which have the ability to alert the local fire department in the event of a fire can literally save a church building from destruction. Some systems use telephone lines while others use radio signals to notify the fire department when there is an alarm.
     
  • Churches should also be equipped with well maintained fire extinguishers. Carbon monoxide detectors should also be installed to protect occupants of the building.br />  

Download the UCC Insurance Board's Fire Prevention Tips.