Electrical systems have always been a common cause for church fires. The data shows that the damage caused by electrical fires in 2015 has been five times greater than this point last year. This is an alarming trend. Below are areas of focus that can significantly reduce the likelihood of a devastating electrical fire to your church.
Look, Listen and Smell
There are often early warning signs that an electrical fire is lurking. Ask yourself the following questions as you walk through your church.
- Is the electrical system in your church over 30 years old?
- Are there extension cords being used to power appliances or lights?
- Are multi-plug adapters or power strips used to plug in multiple appliances or devices?
- Are there any exposed electric wires, wire nuts or missing covers?
- Is there water in, around, or coming out of electric boxes, conduit, or components?
- Are there any signs (sight, sound or smell) of rodents, bats, birds or other pests?
- Have you experienced blown fuses or tripped breakers?
- Have you noticed flickering lights?
- Have you noticed any unusual smell (burning plastic or any smell coming from electric equipment or appliances)?
- Have you heard any popping or arcing sound when lights or appliances turn on and off?
- Are any cords, equipment or appliances warm to the touch?
- Has anyone experienced minor electric shock from touching any cords, equipment or appliances?
If you answer yes to any of the questions above, investigate further and consult with a licensed electrical contractor as needed.
Electrical Preventive Maintenance Program
It is recommended that at least once every three years, preventive maintenance is conducted on your electrical equipment by a licensed electrical contractor. By implementing a preventive maintenance program for your electrical system, your chances of an electrical failure and fire are greatly reduced.
Install Surge Protection
In conjunction with your electrical grounding system, the best means of protecting your electrical equipment from transient voltage is to install surge protection devices (SPDs) throughout your facility.
Infrared cameras, which are sensitive to thermal radiation, can detect and measure the temperature differences between surfaces. Abnormal temperature differences indicate a problem that could lead to a breakdown or failure, or cause a fire.
Regardless of the cause, fires can be catastrophic and devastate the central mission of your church. Taking important preventive measures now can significantly reduce the likelihood of electrical fires in the future.