Protecting against arson

31 July 2019

Arson is the most common cause of Methodist church fires. In many cases, a fire is started by a determined arsonist or a criminal aiming to conceal a crime or a prank that has gone wrong.

Top tips to help prevent arson at your church

Taking some simple steps can reduce the risk of an arson attack. The following tips can help to deter arsonists and minimise damage to the church:

Be vigilant
  • Encourage use of the buildings for church and community events.
  • Seek help from neighbours, ask them to report any suspicious activity to the police immediately. 
  • Repair any minor damage to the church (including graffiti) immediately and report all incidents to the police and your insurer. A damaged building can attract further damage.  
  • Your local Crime Reduction Officer can provide advice. 
  • Do not become complacent - carry out regular external inspections of your church buildings and grounds.
Keep a tidy church
  • Ensure waste is collected on at least a weekly basis. 
  • If possible, use lockable bins and create a secure waste storage area.  
  • Store waste in bins at least 10 meters away from the building to reduce the risk of fire spreading. 
  • Site lightweight outbuildings such as sheds well away from the main building.  
  • Items that can be used to assist in starting fires inside the church should be removed such as matches, newspapers and portable heaters. 
  • As part of locking up procedures, check all internal doors are fully closed to help prevent a fire spreading.
Fire extinguishers
  • Ensure you have adequate fire extinguishers at your Methodist church. We only recommend water or carbon dioxide extinguishers in churches or halls. 
  • Extinguishers should only be used to assist in extinguishing a small fire developing – your safety is still the priority.
Be secure
  • Ensure all doors, windows, and any external gates are locked at night.  
  • Halls should be locked when not occupied. 
  • Try to keep any suspicious activity visible with security lighting and not concealed by trees. 
  • Some Methodist churches may benefit from protection from a fire and/or intruder alarms, or closed circuit television, that provide continual monitoring to an alarm-receiving centre.
Be prepared
  • Ensure your church’s fire risk assessment is reviewed on a regular basis and is adjusted to reflect any changing circumstances. 
  • Create a disaster recovery plan that includes emergency readiness and response procedures to help preserve key assets and enables you to continue deliver services. Having a plan of action for such scenarios can help preserve the church’s good standing in your community.
It is important in the event of a fire loss you have pre-arranged procedures in place to help to reduce damage and respond immediately. Use our arson checklist as a guide to reviewing your existing arrangements and amend as appropriate.