Religious and funeral properties

See the Leading causes of structure fires in religious and funeral properties between 2004-2008.

Facts and figures

  • During the four-year period of 2007-2011, an estimated average of 1,780 religious and funeral property structures fires were reported to U.S. fire departments per year. The fires caused an annual average of two civilian deaths, 19 civilian injuries and $111 million in direct property damage.
  • The vast majority of the religious and funeral property fires occur in religious properties. Only 4% were in funeral parlors.
  • Although approximately one-third (31%) of the fires took place between 9:00 pm and 9:00 am, they accounted for 65% of the direct property damage.
  • The 16% of fires that were intentionally set caused 25% of the direct property damage.

Source: NFPA's "Religious and Funeral Properties" report, Richard Campbell, June 2013.

National Church Arson Task Force formed in 1996
In response to a number of reports of church arsons early in the year and increasing concern about a possible racial motivation for these arsons, President Bill Clinton ordered the formation of the National Church Arson Task Force in June 1996. The Task Force was charged to identify and prosecute church arsonists, help religious communities rebuild their houses of worship after fires, and to offer fire prevention assistance. The Task Force was to coordinate the efforts of law enforcement agencies from all levels of government. An Operations Team, made up of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and of prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorneys’offices, provided assistance to local task forces.

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