Electrical wiring in churches

15 January 2024

Thanks to increasingly high standards of wiring and installation, electrical systems are now generally safer than ever. However, the use of electricity in churches still has the potential to cause considerable damage to property and serious personal injury.

Numerous church fires can be attributed to faulty wiring or apparatus, while damaged electrical equipment can cause shock or, in some cases, burns.

There are several key things to consider in your church to prevent such incidents from occurring.

Avoiding danger from electricity

All fixed electrical systems must be properly designed, installed and maintained by competent electricians in accordance with current standards and good practice. Portable electrical tools or equipment must be suitable for the job in hand and properly maintained to prevent danger.

Fixed electrical systems

  • To be inspected and tested AT LEAST once every five years in accordance with the recommendations of the Church Buildings Council
  • The work completed must meet IET Regulations, Guidance Note No. 3 with an electrical installation and conditioning report issued in every case
  • Work must be carried out by a qualified electrician with full scope registration or membership to work on commercial installations and certified with the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC), The Electrical Contractors Association (ECA), The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT) or The Electrical Contractors’ Association of Scotland (SELECT).
  • Electricians or electrical contractors who are only registered to undertake work on domestic installations under Part P of the Building Regulations are not deemed acceptable by Ecclesiastical.

Portable appliance testing

  • This is electrical equipment that is connected to the mains by a lead and a plug
  • It will need user checks, visual inspections and appliance testing depending upon the type of equipment used, the risk of it becoming faulty; and how the equipment is constructed
  • The periodicity for inspection and testing will vary. The Health and Safety Executive provides further guidance on their website.
  • Any defective or problematic appliances need to be fixed or removed from the premises
  • Inspection and testing must be carried out by a competent person.