The following steps and cautions should be observed to minimise the risk of fire in buildings with thatched roofs.
- Smoke alarms should be fitted; low voltage mains-powered linked alarms are available. Most thatched fires start in the roof space. Owing to the thickness of the roof, a fire may not be apparent for many hours.
- New log burners with sealed units can reach temperatures 300C – 600C. Therefore, if you have a sealed burner ensure that your chimney is correctly lined - as little as 200C can ignite thatch in the correct conditions. Check with your fire supplier if you have any questions on this.
- Have your chimney swept at least once a year, or lined as necessary, and the brickwork checked regularly by a professional builder.
- The chimney, if used by any appliance producing flue gases, should be linked according to the manufacturer’s specification.
- All electrical wiring in the roof/loft space should ideally be routed using appropriate fire retardant ducting.
- Have electrical systems checked regularly and unplug non-essential electrical equipment.
- Be vigilant when tradesmen carry out work on your home – treble check for smouldering debris and make sure that they have an extinguisher on hand.
- Spark arrestors should be fitted and maintained/cleaned on a regular basis.
- Use lightning conductors which have been tested and check that they carry a British Standard kitemark or LPCB (Loss Prevention Certification Board) sign; these show they are approved and safe.
- Fit TV aerials to free-standing poles to avoid thatched roofs being struck by lightning.
- Watch out for cables overhanging your house.
- Make sure neighbours are aware of the dangers to your home from fireworks and bonfires.
- Keep a fire blanket just inside the kitchen door and make sure that all of your family know how to use it.
Also, see Chimney fire safety.