Safeguarding Physical Properties

Every interest of God's cause should be scrupulously safeguarded.

By W. A. BENJAMIN, Secretary of the General Conference Insurance Service

The progress and speedy triumph of the work of God in the earth is uppermost in the mind of every true believer of the gospel message. Those whose hearts are responsive to its advancement will be quick to detect and correct any errors or carelessness which may become evident. Every interest of God's cause should be scrupulously safeguarded.

For nearly eight years the Seventh-day Ad­ventist denomination has maintained an insur­ance service of its own, operating largely in the North American territory. Close contact with the problems of fire protection and loss has revealed tendencies in many places toward lax­ness in the elimination of the ordinary fire hazards that steal upon us unawares. But dili­gence on our part is necessary in keeping con­stant watch of the properties so generously entrusted to our care as stewards in the vineyard of our Lord.

Much of what seems to be negligence in the protection of our properties in conferences and institutions arises from a lack of proper under­standing of the fundamentals of fire hazards, and of what we can do to remove these deficiencies. A few simple suggestions will be helpful to those who are charged with the responsibility of maintaining perpetual safety measures.

Every property in our conferences, including institutions, offices, churches, and elementary schools, should be checked at least twice a year —spring and autumn—by someone definitely charged with this responsibility. In the larger institutions this task can be readily assigned to a trusted assistant or supervisor. And in local churches and schools the pastor or local elder or deacon may assume this important duty. Very small and easily remedied deficiencies often result in major fire damage and loss. Points usually causing the most concern are as follows :

1. Poor housekeeping—dirty corners, closets, basements, dust accumulations, cobwebs, and the like.

2. Faulty smoke pipes in connection with heating equipment. Old or badly worn parts should be replaced with new material and at least an eighteen-inch clear space left between the smoke pipe and the nearest wood construc­tion. Heating apparatus should be thoroughly checked before the heating season begins in the fall. Smoke pipes should be fastened se­curely in place and should be kept clean of all soot.

3. Chimneys should be checked for cracks, and repairs made promptly.

4. Electric wires with poor connections or with worn insulation should be replaced. All wiring should be examined carefully.

5. Ashes from the furnace or stove are safer if put into a metal container until they can be removed from the premises. In no case should they be thrown against wooden partitions.

6. Oiled dust mops and cleaning cloths should be placed in metal containers when not in use. (Most dust mops have removable heads.) Spontaneous combustion from oil mops and dust-cloths is the cause of many fires.

7. Rubbish and waste materials should be re­moved from the building and not allowed to accumulate.

8. Old wooden-shingle roofs are a definite fire hazard. A very small spark lodged in dry, curled-up wooden shingles may start a fire that will prove extremely disastrous. Old curled-up shingles should be replaced.

9. Stoves are used in many small churches for heating purposes. Heating stoves should be kept at least four feet distant from side walls, and the walls protected with metal coverings. The metal sheet under the stove should project not less than eighteen inches on the floor in the front.

There are many more ordinary fire hazards which intelligence and good judgment will recognize and eliminate. Within the past ten years fires have destroyed nearly $400,000 worth of Seventh-day Adventist denominational prop­erty in North America. Not all these buildings and furnishings—many of which were secured by great sacrifice on the part of our believers—were fully covered by insurance. In nearly every case proper precautions would have largely prevented the loss.

Every worker and leader who senses the responsibility which has been placed upon him in God's work will be keenly alive to the trust which he has assumed in the protection of both its material and spiritual interests. Among these will be the safeguarding of the physical property over which he has been given steward­ship.

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By W. A. BENJAMIN, Secretary of the General Conference Insurance Service

December 1943

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