Fire prevention

In addition to meeting compulsory requirements, there are several precautions that places of worship can take to help reduce the risk of fire.

Please also refer the fire safety guidance provided in this site.

A number of fire hazards you should consider are detailed below.

Kitchens

Kitchens are potentially very dangerous places. The use of open flames, liquids and oils, together with the presence of combustible materials make this area a high fire risk.

  • Cooking equipment should be sited where they would not obstruct the exit route if they catch fire. Cooking equipment and refrigerators should be serviced regularly.
  • If using a deep fat fryer, ensure the thermostat is set at the correct temperature and operating correctly. Remember to change the oil regularly as overused oil can ignite more easily as it degrades.
  • Extraction fans must be cleaned at regularly. Filters should be cleaned at least every two weeks and ducts should be professionally cleaned annually.
  • Do not use multi-point adaptors for electrical appliances, each appliance should have its own socket.
  • Housekeeping is important, safe end of day procedures must be adopted to ensure that all equipment is switched off and made safe.
  • Cooking apparatus should not be left unattended at any time while in use.

Other considerations

Heating systems, whether portable or fixed, should be kept in good condition and regularly serviced.

Fuel oil storage tanks

  • Tanks should be located with a catch pit or bund equivalent to 110% of the capacity of the tank to retain the contents in the event of a leak. Where fitted externally the catch pit should be fitted with a self-closing rainwater drain valve.
  • Tanks should be inspected regularly for signs of rusting and leaks and remedial action taken if necessary.

 

Portable heaters

It is recommended that you do not rely on heating your place of worship with portable heaters. If there is no other option, then it is important to ensure that they are used safely.

If your place of worship uses portable heaters:

  • do not place where it may obstruct an exit route or locate it within 1 metre of any combustible materials or furniture;
  • do not place on combustible floors or surfaces when the temperature of the cover exceeds 120ºC;
  • do not leave unattended particularly outside opening hours;
  • do not use with exposed elements - guarded heaters will offer protection;
  • do not move while it is still alight  or switched on as this could result in injury – always turn it off and allow it to cool first;
  • ensure it is well maintained as this will assist in preventing malfunction and possible risk to people and property;
  • always use and maintain them in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

 

Electric heaters

  • Electric heaters should have a BEAB (British Electrotechnical Approvals Board) approved and should be tested annually by a competent person.

 

Gas heaters

  • The cylinder supplying gas to a heater should be located outside the building and approved pipe work used for supply. If this is not possible they must be located within a well-ventilated secure area;
  • Fuel stocks should be kept to a minimum and stored in a secure location away from sources of ignition;
  • When changing a gas heater cylinder try to do this in open air. Otherwise, open windows and doors to increase ventilation. Check that the valve on the empty cylinder is closed before disconnecting it and do not turn on the valve of the new cylinder until it is securely connected to the heater;
  • Store spare cylinders upright and outside whenever possible. Never store them in basements, under stairs or in cupboards containing electric meters or equipment.

 

For more information please visit

https://www.riscauthority.co.uk/free-document-library/RISCAuthority-Library_detail.rc15-recommendations-for-the-use-of-portable-heaters-in-the-workplace.html 

Chimneys

Chimneys and flues should be swept at least once a year. If wood is used as a fuel this will need to be done more regularly.

Decorations

Decorations should not be fixed where they could potentially fall onto an ignition source.

Rubbish

Rubbish and unwanted articles should not be allowed to accumulate either inside or outside the building.

Organ

The organ and organ blower should always be switched off when not in use.

Camping equipment

Camping equipment should not be stored, or left to dry, on or close to heating pipes.

Flammable materials

Ensure that flammable materials such as matches, candles, lighters or fuel are securely stored.

Incense and candles

Extreme care must be exercised when burning incense or candles. Charcoal and thuribles must be cooled following use and before they are returned for storage. An effective candle snuffer should be used to extinguish candles.

Plastics

Some plastic materials, particularly polyurethane foam, are flammable and will produce highly toxic fumes. Hassocks and kneelers with damaged covers should disposed of or repaired as soon as possible.

Wax polish

Rags impregnated with wax polish may be prone to spontaneous ignition and should, therefore, be kept in lidded metal containers.