If the fire alarm rings during the Sunday morning worship service, is an evacuation plan in place? Do you know which exit to take from the sanctuary? Is anyone prepared to direct visitors and to assist those with mobility needs to an exit?
Your congregation should have a plan to follow in case of fire. Write out your fire exit routes and post them on bulletin boards around your building. Make sure there is an alternate or secondary exit and that it is marked adequately.
Emergency fire planning
- Make sure that the fire department has an up-to-date plan of your church property.
- Rooms indicating where children are during specific days/times of the week should be marked on your plan.
- If you use propane gas, mark the locations of the tanks clearly on the plan.
- Safely store the gasoline for a snow blower or lawn mower.
- Your congregation should have a working fire alarm system that is tested regularly*.
- Hold regular fire drills for the children and adults who work or attend programs held in the church.
- Hold yearly fire drills during worship services.
- Place information in the pews that clearly indicates which exits to use in case of an emergency.
- Identify those with special mobility needs.
- Remember to include those with mobility needs in your emergency plan.
- If there are people in your congregation who have difficulty understanding English, provide them with an emergency plan that they can understand.
Steps to follow should a fire occur
- Warn everyone to leave the building.
- Have someone call the fire department.
- If it is a small fire, contained to the area where it started, use the nearest fire extinguisher, making sure it’s the proper type. With your back toward a safe escape route, aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire and sweep from side to side. Discharge the entire contents of the extinguisher (some extinguishers may require slightly different action — be familiar with operating instructions).
- If you have the any doubt about whether you should attempt to fight the fire — get out! Let the fire department handle it — they’re professionals.
- If you’ve chosen not to fight the fire, conduct a head count once safely outside. See how many people are accounted for. Do not re-enter the building! Inform the fire department of any missing people and let them conduct rescue operations.
- Have the fire department call an ambulance for anyone injured.
- As soon as practical, contact your insurance representative.