Protecting Your Church from Arson

February 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Posted in Insurance, Religious Institution, Safety | Leave a comment

Did you know that arson is the leading cause of fires in the United States, resulting in more than $1 billion in property loss each year?

Arson is one of the leading causes of fires along with open flames, electrical and lightning. Churches that have been victims of arson, incur on average, in excess of $450,000 in damages.

Why are Churches Targets for Arson?

Churches are often targets for arson because the buildings are frequently unoccupied and church schedules are very predictable. Security systems in many religious buildings also are often insufficient or absent. 

According to research from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), sprinkler systems were not present in 95 percent of churches reporting fires, yet there was a 47 percent reduction in damage per church fire when automatic suppression systems were present.

However, not every Church can afford these systems. Listed below are preventive measures that can be done to protect your congregation without breaking the bank.

  • Always make sure all windows and doors are locked when the building is unoccupied.
  • Limit  the number of keys to the building, and make sure that all keys  are returned if an employee or volunteer leaves the church.  Locks should be changed occasionally.
  • All doors and windows should have adequate locks, jams and/or deadbolts.
  • Keep exterior building, door and parking lot lights on from sunset to sunrise. Remember to change the lighting timers with Daylight Savings Time.
  • Keep an interior light visible from outside lit at night or consider the installation of motion-activated lighting near entryways and windows.
  • Maintain shrubs and trees, ensuring that they are trimmed around doors and windows.
  • Establish a “Church Watch” program, enlist  volunteers & neighbors to check  the property at various times of the week and report any suspicious activity.
  • Reach out to local law-enforcement and ask them to patrol your property at odd hours when the building is not occupied.
  • Keep the grounds of the church free from debris and garbage. Have tools and ladders secured in a locked area.

For additional information please feel free to contact us at 631.403.4107 or on our website at NSAinsure/Churches and Synogues.

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