Arson Protection Tips for Texas churches
by Martin Barillas Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Contact: Jay Lillge
Title: Corporate Communications Director
Phone: (715) 539-4503
Address: 3000 Schuster Lane, Merrill, Wis. 54452
Arson protection tips for Texas churches
MERRILL, Wis.—The occurrence of nine suspicious fires at worship centers in eastern Texas since the first of the year emphasizes the need for vigilance in protecting ministries.
As the No. 1 insurer of religious organizations in the United States, including more than 8,000 customers in Texas, Church Mutual Insurance Company is at the forefront of providing risk management solutions for religious organizations on a variety of topics, including fire safety.
"Worship centers can be easy targets as they are unoccupied at night, and if they are in a rural area, they have few, if any, neighbors nearby for the criminals to worry about," said Rick Schaber, Risk Control Manager of Church Mutual. "The reasons for arson range from religious disagreements to covering up other crimes, such as burglary to acts of vandalism. Arson is on our radar screen each and every year."
There are many steps religious organizations can take immediately to reduce the risk of arson including:
Maintain adequate exterior lighting to eliminate hiding places.
Use motion detection lights to alert neighbors of activity.
Put interior lighting on sequential timers to give the impression of occupancy and activity.
Trim or remove shrubbery that blocks the view of possible entries to your building.
Trim tree branches that might allow second-storey access.
Ladders offer easy access to your roof. Store them properly.
Install deadbolt locks with a minimum one-inch throw on all outside doors (if your building codes permit).
Keep all doors (including interior offices and closets) locked when unattended.
Install locks on all basement, ground floor and second-story windows.
Remove and secure gasoline and other fuel sources from inside and around your building.
Request patrols by local police.
Establish a neighborhood watch program. Notify law enforcement authorities of suspicious activity—do not confront suspects yourself.
Additional arson prevention tips are found in Church Mutual's Fire Safety At Your Worship Center booklet and DVD.
"We have distributed millions of our fire safety booklets and videos to religious organizations and various fire safety agencies over the years," Schaber said.
Founded in 1897, Church Mutual does business in all 50 states and currently insures more than 100,000 houses of worship, schools, camps, colleges and senior care facilities.
Church Mutual offers all of its safety material to any religious organization at no charge. To order the booklet or video—Fire Safety At Your Worship Center—call Church Mutual at (800) 554-2642, select Option 4 and enter Extension 4205. Or go to www.churchmutual.com, select Safety Resources and click on Order Safety Material.
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