JGS Fire Safety

Published: Thursday, July 30, 2020

 

"Fire safety has been my life."

Fires in churches can have a devastating effect. As well as the tragic fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris in 2019, recent examples of church fires in the UK include the destruction of Grade II listed Bethel church in Newport, Wales Swansea and of Royston’s St John the Baptist church in Hertfordshire. 

In addition to damage to property, there is also a risk to life to be considered. According to Ecclesiastical Insurance, when fire damage does occur this can affect local communities, disrupting local user groups and the outreach activities of the church. Typical hazards include: 

  • Defective electrical wiring and apparatus 

  • Faulty or poorly maintained heating systems 

  • Candles  

  • Arson 

  • Hot works during a repair 

  • Lightning strikes 

For churches seeking to prevent fires, JGS Fire Safety, members of the National Churches Trust's Professional Trades Directory, offers a comprehensive service. It is run by Guy Solly, who with more than 30 years in the Fire Service, can draw on considerable expertise to advise on all aspects of fire prevention and safety. 

After retiring from the Service in 2016, Guy founded JGS Fire Safety Ltd in Wickford, Essex. The company gives advice, provides training, and supplies fire extinguishers to clients in the South East and beyond.  

His team are all serving or retired members of the Fire Service. The company is certified by BAFE, an independent body that registers fire safety service providers. 

Fire risk assesments for churches

JGS’s core role is preparing fire risk assessments for buildings. These must be done by an independent company and are a requirement for churches under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  

In Scotland fire safety duties are contained in part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, as amended and the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006. 

Once a quote for an assessment is accepted, an assessor will examine documents that record how the building is maintained. They will check, for instance, that the wiring and electrical equipment is tested every five years by a competent person, an insurance requirement. 

How to prevent fires

Says Guy: “We walk round the building and surrounding area. We talk to the person responsible for it. Then we produce a report and, if required, talk them through it in more detail.” 

The assessment covers security, management and fire safety equipment. 

“We’re looking at how to prevent a fire. Take where rubbish is stored: If you’ve got big bins that aren’t locked into a safe place an arsonist could set fire to them, if they’ve got wheels they might push them to the church.” 

The assessor examines existing external lighting, CCTV, smoke detectors and burglar alarms and recommends new equipment if necessary. 

Fire extinguishers are supplied on request but Guy says their primary job is to assess risk: “we’re available to help but we are not there as a sales person as that would be a conflict of interest.” 

Listed buildings

JGS works with a number of listed buildings. Two listed buildings he's worked on recently are, Armoury House, home of the Honourable Artillery Company in London (Grade II* Listed) and Redbridge Town Hall in Ilford, London (Grade II Listed). He knows that budgets are often tight and administrators need help to prioritise what needs to be done. 

“We have relationships of trust with clients that last many years,” says Guy. 

With beautiful buildings in particular, he searches for compromises to minimise the visual impact of unsightly signs and equipment. 

“Fire extinguishers should be visible but not garish. We can make sure that the relevant people know where they are.” 

Additionally, a salvage plan may minimise damage to a church and its treasures in the event of a fire. 

Fire safety has been my life

Guy’s mission is to increase awareness of fire safety.  “A lot of people don’t think about it. I joined the Fire Service at 19. Fire safety has been my life and now I’m doing all I can to bring it to the fore". 

“Hopefully it will never happen but if there is a fire, you only have one chance. By educating people, you can save lives.”

Profile by Elena Curti

 

Areas of coverage Essex, Greater London, Kent
Contact name Guy Solly
Contact email info@jgsfiresafety.co.uk
Telephone 01268858231
Link http://jgsfiresafety.co.uk/
  • Guy Solly

  • Redbridge Town Hall

  • The Honourable Artillery Company