Safety Library

Tips, Tutorials, and Checklists to help manage ministry risks

Fire-Prevention Series Part Four: Call in the Professionals

Know when to ask for help


Professional making a church building inspection to help avoid fire hazards

There are many things that you can do on your own when it comes to fire prevention. But, it’s important to know when to call in a professional.

Faulty heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and faulty electrical systems are two of the top causes of fire. Ensuring that these two elements are taken care of on a regular basis will drastically reduce the risk of fire to your ministry.

The easiest way to do that is to ensure that you have professional assistance maintaining these systems. Well-meaning volunteers that know a little about HVAC systems or electricity can do more harm than good.

Start by having a licensed contractor inspect, clean, and maintain your HVAC system. And if you haven’t had a qualified electrician inspect your electrical system and wiring, put that near the top of your fire safety list—especially if you have old wiring or have added significantly to your electrical needs. Though both of these efforts will cost you in maintenance, they could potentially save you in the long run.

Where can I find help to prevent church fires?

For Brotherhood Mutual policyholders, the risk control department offers risk management services free of charge. A representative from the risk control team will work with you to develop strategies to manage the risks of fire.

“At Brotherhood Mutual, our risk control management and staff is committed to teaming with our clients in their efforts to reduce the loss of lives and property through effective management of fire risk,” says Brock Bell, senior manager of risk control for Brotherhood Mutual.

Another option is to call your local fire inspector. However, when you enlist help from the fire department, be prepared to take action to correct any violations.

“An inspector will walk through your building with you and let you know what things may need to be corrected or maintained,” says Assistant Fire Chief James Murua of the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Fire Department. They can also help create or review evacuation and fire safety plans. Another benefit of inviting the fire department for a visit is that it will help them learn your building layout and structure. This will help them be prepared, should they be called to respond to a fire.

What other items require professional attention?
  • Fire alarm systems
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Yearly fire extinguisher maintenance
  • Lightning and surge protection

Additionally, an architect or fire prevention engineer can help determine the type, number, and locations of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.