City requires firefighters at candle services

December 17, 2009 4:28:43 AM PST
Churches in an Alabama city better count on a few extra guests at Christmas Eve candlelight ceremonies. The Birmingham suburb of Homewood requires a permit and four off-duty firefighters to attend any service where candles are passed out to parishioners.

Fire Chief John Bresnan says the rule has been in place for 10 years, but many churches didn't know about it.

Pastor Sid Burgess of Edgewood Presbyterian Church says rule "does seem like overkill" and the cost of up to $400 to hire firefighters can be a lot for a small church.

The rule doesn't apply if ministers and other church leaders are the only ones handling the flames.

The fire chief says the rule is all about ensuring safety in crowded rooms with open flames.