Places of Religious Worship

It is important to understand that more than one piece of fire safety legislation and/or fire safety guidance can be applied to any individual premises. For instance take a school the The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 applies and there could be others. Fire Safety guidance documents including Guide 5 – Educational premises, Guide 1 – Offices and shops, Guide 6 – Small and medium places of assembly or Guide 7 – Large places of assembly may apply and if the school is a boarding school then Guide 3 – Sleeping accommodation could apply.

Fire Safety Legislation

New and altered premises are subject to the Building Regulations and the guidance for fire matters are dealt with by Approved Document Part B Fire Safety. Within that document appendix G and H there is a list, of other guidance documents that may be relevant.

When premises are occupied fire precautions are controlled by The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and this order lays down legal requirements, check them out at the above link.

Fire Safety Guide for England and Wales

The most appropriate guide for Places of religious Worship is likely to be Guide 6 – Small and medium places of assembly or Guide 7 – Large places of assembly and can be downloaded at the Department of Communities and Local Government web site.

This guide is for the Responsible Persons and it tells you what you have to do to comply with fire safety law. It helps you to carry out a fire risk assessment and identify the general fire precautions you need to have in place. This guides are intended for premises where the main use of the building or part of the building is as a small (i.e. premises accommodating up to 60 people) or a medium (i.e. premises accommodating up to 300 people) or a large (i.e. premises where more than 300 people could gather) places of assembly. It includes places of religious worship or study and associated premises; temporary structures and marquees/tents.

This guide may also be suitable where the premises adjoin other complexes, although co-operation with the other managers will be necessary as part of an integrated risk assessment for the complex. The guide has been written to provide guidance for a responsible person, to help them to carry out a fire risk assessment in less complex premises. If you read the guide and decide that you are unable to apply the guidance, then you should seek expert advice from a competent person. More complex premises will probably need to be assessed by a person who has comprehensive training or experience in fire risk assessment.

Fire safety is only one of many safety issues management must address to minimise the risk of injury or death to staff or the public. Unlike most of the other safety concerns, fire has the potential to injure or kill large numbers of people very quickly. This guidance is concerned only with fire safety, but many of the measures discussed here will impact upon other safety issues, and vice versa. It is recognised that these differing safety demands can sometimes affect one another and management should consult other interested agencies, such as the Local Authority, where necessary to confirm that they are not contravening other legislation or guidance.

Church Safety

Health and Safety is an increasingly important part of everyday life in Churches and Places of Worship. Church Safety is well established as a leader in providing H & S support to Places of Worship, it affects all Places of Worship from the smallest chapel to the largest cathedral. There are a number of reasons why H & S is essential for every Place of Worship and you will find information on a number of H & S topics on this Web site.

There is also information on some other topics of interest, downloads, a Frequently Asked Questions page and links to other useful resources on the Internet. To find articles on fire safety go to Site Map and select the appropriate link.

The National Church Watch organisation

The most common causes of fire in place of worship is arson attacks and these can be reduced if a good security system is in place. If you require information on security in places of worship it is worth contacting the National Church Watch.

The Churches’ Legislative Advisory Service

The subjects covered by the service range from fire safety, taxation, heritage grants and charity law to marriage law, immigration rules, planning and building regulations and water charges. Circulars are issued free of charge, giving information and advice. The Churches’ Legislative Advisory Service

Arson Prevention

Arson is the single most common cause of fire in premises and 45% of all serious fires are a result of arson. Much of this is not targeted and the vast majority of arson attacks are down to opportunist vandalism. Apart from the need to comply with the law the Responsible Person has a duty to himself and the premises she/he is responsible for to reduce this risk to as low as reasonable possible. Information to assist you, to achieve these aims, go to my page on How to Combat Arson

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March 17, 2011[Last updated: December 4, 2012]

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