How To Prevent Church Fires
No one wants to think about church fires, but there are a number of churches that burn to the ground each year.
A church is viewed as a safe place for most people, as it is the place they go with their friends and family to worship God. Seeing our church on fire and destroyed is the furthest thing from our mind. Many churches have been around for 50, 75, and 100 plus years, so they become a fixture to the local community
As church buildings age, they require updating and many churches fall behind on some of the most critical maintenance. This lack of maintenance can lead to church fires which can have a devastating effect on your church congregation.
It is important to practice fire safety procedures, no matter if your church is located in a forest or in the middle of a major city.
Having the correct church insurance property coverage, will allow your church organization to be able to rebuild back to normal.
Update Your Churches Electrical Panel & Wiring To Stop Church Fires
Depending on the age of your churches electrical panel and wiring, you church buildings could be a ticking time bomb. Every year, between 2015-2019 there were an estimated 45,000 to 55,000 fires which occur in the united stated, due to faulty electrical work or old wring. The number of deaths totaled 430, and 1,070 injuries just related to house fires. These figures do not deal with business or church related fires.
It is important to factor in the liability nonprofits also incur related to church fires. If someone becomes injured related to a fire, the church can be held financially responsible for their death and injuries.
The church board of directors can also be held personally liable, for failure to protect church members and visitors of the church.
The churches board is responsible for maintaining the overall safety of the church property and buildings. This includes properly financing needed church maintenance, to help prevent church fires.
A Directors and Officers insurance policy, will help financially protect a church board, but it will not protect the injured party.
It is recommended for churches to have a licensed electrical contractor, review their electrical panel and wiring annually. Electrical wiring and panel that are 30 years or older, need to be look at for possible replacement.
Here are some signs to watch for that show it’s time to replace your church’s electrical wiring:
- You have noticed the breaker is getting tripped more frequently. As we add more electrical items, we may be putting too much demand on our wiring and breakers. Hire a licensed electrical contractor reviews your current situation to make recommendation on any upgrades or need to replace wiring to maintain the safety of your church building.
- Your church is regularly using extension cords to spread out your electrical needs. As your electrical needs increase and you see you are overloading a breaker, we have seen churches use electrical cords to spread out the load. This should not be done, and an electrical contractor can help provide a permanently fix.
- Flickering or dimming lights within the church. When lights start to dim and/or flicker, this is a sign of old electrical wiring. Behind your church walls, the electrical wiring could show signs of wear. This can lead to an electrical fire due to exposed wiring.
- Your outlets are stained. If you notice your electrical outlets have stains or discoloration, this is a clear sign your church wiring is experiencing surges in power. This is a fire risk and needs to be addressed immediately.
Maintaining Your Church Fire Extinguishers
One of our first inspection items as church insurance brokers, is checking if the fire extinguishers tags are current.
As churches are a commercial facility, they are required to have their fire extinguishers inspected annually.
This includes all portable fire extinguishers, and the fire extinguisher systems over a commercial cooking area.
These are a churches first line of defense in the to stop church fires from getting out of control. Being able to quickly extinguish a fire can mean the difference in a small church fire loss to a total fire loss.
Church Fire Sprinkler System Inspections, Testing, and Maintenance
NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, provides the guidelines for churches and contractors to follow related to the automatic sprinklers systems.
It is imperative these guidelines are followed so your church, can confidently rely upon it in the event of a fire. Church fires, can be stopped right in their track, with a well maintained fire sprinkler system.
If your church is equipped with one of these fire safety tools, you need to ensure it is always in proper working order.
Proper Church Brush Clearance Reduces Property Loss
If your church is in a fire prone area, it is important to create a defensible space around your church property. A defensible space can stop church fires from happen, when the area around your property is on fire.
This includes removing dead trees and brush that pose a fire risk. Spreading out your plants, shrubs, and trees also help with your fire defense.
Call your local city and state, to find out their specific requirements and guidelines you need to follow. These requirements can change, depending on where your church is located within your state.
For instance in California – CalFire has broken down areas by zone 0, zone 1, and zone 2. Depending on your zone, you are required to increase your defensible space and weed abatement.
Central Monitored Alarm Protect Against Church Fires
Many church buildings are left vacant 6 days out of the week, which leaves then vulnerable to church fires.
Having a central monitored fire alarm installed in your church buildings, can help stop a fire before it destroys the entire church building.
In addition, you may want to consider adding a burglar alarm, and camera as this will help reduce church theft. The monitoring company will typically include a package discount for them to monitor for church fires and burglary.
Fire Insurance For Churches
Church Fires continue to rise and have become a real issue not only for churches, but for the church fire insurance providers as well. As of this writing the state of Texas is dealing with a large fire storm sweeping across the central part of its’ state.
This is the result of more extreme weather conditions that continue to hit our country. California didn’t get much of a break this winter either, and currently has 3 active fires in the month of March.
The need for churches to have fire insurance in place, has increased tremendously over the past 10 years. It is vital for churches to be insured with an insurance company that will be there for them in their time of need.
Churches need to work with a church insurance agent, who specializes in church insurance. Church buildings are rated differently than the average commercial building.
Most commercial insurance building replacement cost estimators, do not have the ability to calculate a church building replacement cost properly. This will in most cases leave a church under insured by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If your church would like for us to review your church insurance, please reach out to one of our insurance experts by completing our online form, or give us a call.