This is Arson Awareness Week: Protecting Houses of Worship Against Arson

In recent years, fire departments in the U.S. reported an estimated 1,300 fires in places of worship, resulting in an estimated annual average of $74.6 million in property loss.

The burning of a house of worship not only devastates the affected congregation but wounds the entire community. Arson can rob a congregation of its valuable assets, lives, property, and destroys more than just the buildings used as houses of worship. It can devastate a community, resulting in the decline of neighborhoods through increased insurance premiums, loss of business revenue, and a decrease in property values.

Houses of worship are particularly vulnerable to fire damage because they’re often unoccupied for long periods of time and, in many cases, in rural areas. Rural properties will generally sustain more severe damage since discovery and response time may be delayed.

You can take steps to prevent arson at your house of worship:

*Illuminate building exterior and entrances. Place motion-activated lighting near entrances. Install lights to cover all sides of the building. Put interior lights on timers.

*Clear obstructions and excess vegetation. Trim or remove shrubbery that blocks the view of the building from the street. Remove excess vegetation and piles of leaves from around the outside of the building.

*Install smoke alarms and a fire sprinkler system. The most effective fire loss prevention and reduction measure for life and property is installing and maintaining fire sprinklers.

*Keep doors locked. Equip external doors with code-compliant hardware and secure them when the facility isn’t occupied. Limit and track which members of the congregation have keys and alarm codes.

*Keep windows locked. Use window hardware with spring-loaded bolts that insert through the window frame into the wall frame.

*Clean inside to remove unneeded paper, trash, cleaning supplies, paint cans, and other materials that could fuel a fire for an arsonist.

Lucky Knott

Lucky Knott

One of Southern Tennessee's most experienced and recognized news broadcasters and play-by-play sportscasters. News and Sports Director for Rooster 101.5 FM, 93.9 The Duck and Whiskey Country 105.1, and 95.9. He is currently the play-by-play voice of the Coffee County Red Raiders (31 years) on The Rooster 101.5 and can be heard M-F broadcasting our local news. Lucky has done play-by-play for 3,993 (and counting) sports events on Radio & TV. He also served four years as the Public Information Officer for the Coffee Co. Sheriff's Dept. and taught Radio/TV for six years at Grundy County High School.

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