Thatched property fire safety

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Please note: This safety advice is offered as guidance only. If in doubt, Get out, Stay out and get the Fire and Rescue Service out!

Fires in thatched roofs are not common, but because of their spectacular nature they attract a great deal of publicity.

Once a fire gets a hold on a thatched roof it is very difficult for the Fire Service to extinguish without removing all of the thatch covering; this is an arduous labour intensive task which will render the building unusable until expensive repairs are carried out.

By following a few simple precautions the householder can eliminate most of the risks of a thatched roof fire.

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Causes of Thatched Roof Fires and Actions to Reduce Risk

Chimney fire spreading to thatch
  • Have chimney swept regularly, check "Rendering on chimney" Check flue lining and replace if necessary
  • Ensure that the top of the chimney stack is at least five feet above the thatch; this will allow sparks to die away before they drop onto the thatch
  • Maintain spark arrestors, dirty spark arrestors can cause combustion through poor ventilation
  • Do not burn wet or unseasoned wood as this will lead to a greater build up of deposits in the flue
Electrical fires spreading to thatch
  • All electrical work to be carried out by a competent professional
  • Wiring in the roof space should be checked at regular intervals
  • Check roof space for sign of vermin as these creatures may damage the wiring
Fire spread from outside
  • If you are having a bonfire, site it as far away from the house as possible, bearing in mind the wind direction. Avoid bonfires in times when everything including the thatch is "Tinder dry"
  • Ensure that you have a garden hose from which a jet can reach all parts of the roof
  • Be aware of neighbour's bonfires and be extra vigilant around bonfire night
Lightening strike
  • This is a rare cause of fire but if your property is in an exposed area it may be vulnerable; if this is the case it is worth re-siting any roof mounted television aerial; perhaps to a pole in the garden
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General advice

  • Fit smoke detectors in the roof space; these should be mains wired and linked (A detector operating in the roof space will activate the other detectors in the building.)
  • If you have a fire when you dial 999 be sure to tell the operator that yours is a thatched property.

If you would like your property to be included in a register of thatched buildings please contact:

jim [dot] labouchardiere [at] shropshirefire [dot] gov [dot] uk (Jim Labouchardiere)
Incident Command
01743 260 200

Further information

Community Fire Safety

Telephone: 01743 260 200