N.Y. FD makes New Year's resolution to inspect all area churches

The Albany Fire Department is shifting tactics to ensure it can inspect 100% of the more than 300 local houses of worship


Alan Mauldin
The Albany Herald, Ga.

ALBANY, N.Y. — The Albany Fire department has set a New Year's resolution to conduct inspections at all of the more than 300 Dougherty County churches, from the large structures in the city to far-flung rural locations.

Because fire inspectors work business hours Monday through Friday and many churches are vacant except on Sundays, arranging inspections has proved to be difficult at some locations in previous years.

For 2022, the Albany Fire Department, which provides fire protection in the city and county, is making church inspections a priority.

The department has set a goal for the coming year to make sure church facilities are up to code to prevent unnecessary destruction and possible injuries and deaths.

In some cases, the fire department has not had success through mail and telephone attempts to get in contact with churches, Deputy Fire Chief Sebon Burns said.

While carelessness in the kitchen remains the No. 1 cause of fires, blazes at assemblies, which include churches, can be deadly and destructive.

Between 2015 and 2019, there were 16,000 assembly fires nationwide, Burns said, and they accounted for 15 deaths, 200 injuries and $340 million in property damage.

Churches also can incur liability if a fire occurs in a building where there was faulty cooking equipment or defective fire extinguishers.

"Is insurance going to pay off if you haven't had an inspection since 2016?" Burns said. "Probably not."

The fire department plans to hand deliver letters to all churches in the county over the coming year to reach its goal of 100 percent coverage for inspections.

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(c)2021 The Albany Herald, Ga.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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