June 16, 1999

Tips for inspecting church
structures for safety

___Churches should make regular inspections of facilities to keep potential problems from becoming hazards, according to Keith Crouch, director of the church facilities department at the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
___Crouch, a licensed architect, offered the tips to churches following the roof collapse at First Baptist Church of Corsicana June 5.
___"Visual inspections are things any church ... any pastor, can do," Crouch said.
___He urged church leaders to take photos--maybe even videos--of facilities. "This is what doctors call a 'baseline' and offers a point of reference should problems occur in the future."
___The person making a visual inspection of church buildings should be alert for potential exterior problems such as:
___bluebull Exterior cracks in joints, brick, plaster.
___bluebull Sagging roof areas.
___bluebull Bumps in the roof ridge.
___bluebull Gaps or rips in roofing.
___bluebull Multiple layers of old roofing shingles.
___bluebull Cracks at corners or tops of windows.
___He noted one Texas church recently discovered it had three layers of old shingles on the roof, which caused severe problems. "Those layers of roofing are very heavy, and when rain soaks the roof, it can produce very dangerous conditions and potential collapse."
___The church was urged not to meet in the building until the old shingles could be removed and repairs made.
___Crouch said potential problems discovered in interior inspections include:
___bluebull Sagging ceilings.
___bluebull Cracks in ceiling materials.
___bluebull Cracks at the tops of windows.
___bluebull Cracks in framing materials.
___If problems are discovered, the church should contact a local structural engineer to make an inspection and written report. Crouch encouraged churches to contact contractors for bids to do the needed repairs based on the engineering report. "This kind of work needs to be done by professionals. They know what to do; and the work is too risky for volunteers," he said.


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