Warning to thatched cottage owners as winter gets closer

Warning to thatched cottage owners as winter gets closer

Published at 1:26pm 30th October 2019.

3 minute read

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue is reminded people in thatched properties to take precautions against blazes.

The risk of a fire in cottages is no higher than in a 'normal' house, but the impact of fire is far greater.

It's difficult to put out a blaze within the thatch, as they're designed to repel water.

Firefighters have to physically pull the roofing material away to create a fire break and reach the source.

Thatch fire Redlynch 2
The National Society of Master Thatchers estimates the average cost of a thatch fire is at least £45,000

FIREFIGHTERS' ADVICE

Ian Hopkins, Prevention Delivery Manager, said: 

"More often than not, once fire is discovered in a thatched roof, it has already taken hold and the chances of firefighters being able to control it are minimal. It's therefore vital that you do all you can to prevent fire from starting in the first place, and make sure your insurance is up-to-date, remembering to check both your contents and buildings policies.

"Most insurers will have requirements before they agree to provide cover, so it's imperative that you do all they ask. For example, some make it part of your policy to have a garden hose on standby, or state how often spark arrestors need to be cleaned, or determine what size the flue outlet should be. If the worst does happen, firefighters will salvage as many of your possessions as they can, so be clear on where particularly valuable or sentimental items are so you can help crews to help you."

Monxton fire thatched cottages
Thatched cottage blazes can cause some serious problems for homeowners

WHAT ELSE CAN I DO? 

There's loads more tips on the Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue website, but some of the most useful ones include: 

  • Ensure that any alterations, construction, electrical or gas work to your property is carried out by a registered engineer
  • Sweep your chimney at least twice a year - in autumn and early spring
  • Keep your chimney in good working order, for example by fitting a bird guard to prevent birds from nesting and blocking the flue
  • If you have an open fire or wood burner, only burn seasoned or kiln-dried wood which has been stored in a dry, airy place
  • Don't burn any other waste material, as stoves aren't designed for this and it can lead to blocked chimneys or flues
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