Devon And Somerset Fire And Rescue Service Logo
Commercial Services

 

Search

Fire safety for thatched homes

Thatch fires are very difficult for us to put out. They often result in total loss of your home. Over a quarter (22 of 74) of thatched property fires we have attended in the past six years saw the whole building damaged.

Please download our handy booklet (PDF) and keep it safe for future reference. It has more detailed information than these pages, so we strongly recommend taking a look.

Book your free home safety visit

If you live in a thatched property in Devon or Somerset, then you qualify for a free home safety visit.


We are also offering a free magnetic stovepipe thermometer to help you burn your stove more safely.


To talk to a friendly adviser and get your visit booked in:

Main causes of thatch fires

  • Most fires in thatched properties start in the chimney. If you do not clean and maintain your chimney, a fire will be more likely.
  • A major cause of fires in thatched properties is heat transfer from the chimney into the thatch.
  • Burning wet wood or other inappropriate materials such as paper or card can create sparks that increase the temperature of the thatch and make it more likely to set fire.
  • Damaged or poorly installed electrical cables in the loft.
  • Embers from bonfires.

How to reduce the risk of fire in thatched properties


Make sure you install:

  • Smoke alarms throughout your home (and an interlinked smoke alarm for a loft space if you have one).
  • A fire blanket in the kitchen.
  • Residential sprinkler systems.
  • A system of heat sensors within the thatch and around the chimney for early warning if thatch is overheating.
  • An outside tap with a long hose, in case you find a small fire.
  • A bird guard to deter birds from building nests in chimneys.
  • Chimney heat baffles. These are sheets of aluminium that form a heat barrier between the outside of the chimney and the thatch.

Other precautions you can take:

  • Check the electrical system throughout your home - electric cables in the loft should run through insulated conduit and you should cover lights in the ceiling below with an intumescent hood.
  • Before going to bed, ensure any naked flames are extinguished.
  • Only burn dry, seasoned, hard wood.
  • Don't have bonfires, fireworks and sky lanterns near your property. It's a good idea to discuss this with your neighbours.
  • It is important to insulate the chimney flue. This prevents heat from transferring to the thatch layer. (This is especially important when a solid fuel or wood burner is installed - they burn at higher temperatures than conventional open fires).

Warning signs

The following are signs that may indicate a problem:

  • Staining of the plasterwork or wallpaper around/on the chimney.
  • Dark deposits on the chimney or in the loft.
  • Soot on cobwebs.
  • If you have an old chimney, it will lose the render lining (sometimes called parging) which will crumble. This can result in scorching to wooden lintels too.
  • Make sure that your stove is burning at the right heat. Use a stovepipe thermometer to do this.

How to safely maintain a chimney

  • Have the chimney swept regularly by a qualified chimney sweep - a chimney in regular use should be swept at least twice a year.
  • Have the chimney inspected by a qualified chimney engineer.
  • Please note that we do not recommend spark arrestors for chimneys. If you have a spark arrestor fitted, clean it regularly. This should be done every three months on chimneys in regular use and the arrestor should be taken down to clean.

What to do if your home is on fire

  • Get out, stay out, call 999.
  • Only try and put out the fire if it is safe to do so.
  • Contact your insurance company.

 

Useful and informative article? Please share it!

PrivacyNoticesMindful EmployerFire Pride and AlliesEmployers Network For Equality and Inclusion Member ENEI logoBQF Member Logo The disability confident committed logo