PCCs have a duty of care towards people using their church buildings:
- You must undertake a fire risk assessment for your building and be able to demonstrate that you have done so. Your local fire brigade can inspect at any time and you will need to have the relevant paperwork available for inspection. A straightforward Fire Risk Assessment Form is available to guide you through the issues for your particular building. You need to demonstrate that you have consciously assessed the risks of fire starting and that you have actively considered and maintained suitable means of escape in case a fire does break out.
- If a church is left open and unattended during the day, there should be clear instructions, prominently displayed, about who to contact in the event of an emergency.
- PCCs need to identify a competent person to carry out assessments and regular checks of fire equipment.
- Remember that any electrical/building work or signage is very likely to require prior diocesan authorisation (normally through faculty), particularly for church buildings listed Grade 1 or Grade 2*. If in doubt, contact the DAC Office or your Archdeacon for advice.
- Take steps to reduce the risk of arson.
Ecclesiastical insurance have provided the following advice about fires in waste bins:
Over 40% of fires which occur in the United Kingdom each year are malicious in origin and often involve the ignition of waste materials stored close to buildings or property, in piles, open skips or wheeled containers. These fires can develop very rapidly, especially those in plastic wheeled containers, which ignite easily and burn vigorously. Metal bins with lockable lids should be used to store waste material prior to final collection and removal. These bins should be located in marked areas and where possible be positioned at least 10 metres away from buildings and plant.
- The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 - the official Government regulations
- Health and Safety Executive - Most fires are preventable. Those responsible for workplaces and other buildings to which the public have access can avoid them by taking responsibility for and adopting the right behaviours and procedures.
- Government guidance for churches holding up to 300 people and over 300 people
- Your church insurer will be able to offer advice specific to your church, e.g. Ecclesiastical Insurance
- Practical issues with dry powder fire extinguishers