Responsibilities, planning and frequently asked questions.
Candles pose a particular fire risk, especially at certain times of the year, such as Christmas, so it’s wise to revisit your risk assessment procedures.
Your assessment must take into account the risk that candles pose – especially to children – and the precautions you need to put in place. We would strongly suggest that you record your assessment in writing.
We’re not saying that you shouldn’t use candles – the use of candles in church is a very important part of worship - just that it's important to remember that they can be a cause of major fires and serious injuries if not used correctly.
Just remember to take the regulations and common sense into account. Simple precautions should mean that candles are used safely.
Good quality slow-burning candles are best. Cheaper, catering-quality candles will burn down quickly, and the flame may soon get dangerously close to foliage or decorations.
Great care needs to be taken where the congregation are given candles to hold, especially where large numbers are involved. Apart from the risk of igniting service sheets etc., molten wax can cause damage to clothing and is very hot. Purpose-made candles are available, and should be used with proper slide-on card drip trays.
Where children are involved, even greater care is necessary. Children should be properly supervised and care taken to ensure that they do not stand too close together, or too close behind one another, as there’s a risk of both clothing and hair being set alight. Processions while holding candles are probably best avoided.
Candles must be kept well clear of all combustible materials including flammable decorations, foliage and electrical equipment. Ideally, candles should be placed in metal holders on non-combustible surfaces such as stone or brick. Candles should never be placed directly onto Christmas trees.
Every church should have at least two extinguishers of the appropriate type, and these should be examined and serviced at regular intervals.
Water extinguishers are the most suitable for dealing with burning foliage, paper and wood, but must not be used on electrical equipment.
Stewards must know where the extinguishers are and how to use them. Training can be provided either by your fire extinguisher supplier or the local fire brigade.
A fire blanket may be a better way of dealing with certain fire situations, and you should have at least one available for the service. They are particularly suitable for dealing with burning clothing
If a fire should start, you must be certain that people can get out of the building quickly. All doors must be unlocked before the service and capable of being opened quickly.
A steward should be located at each door and at least one person should be given the task of calling the fire brigade.
Stewards should have torches so that any minor problems can be dealt with quickly without bringing on the main lights. But in the event of a fire, or other serious emergency, the main lights must be brought on immediately