Thatch, Fires, Woodburners & Chimneys – Feb 2017 Update

Thatch Advice Centre Fire Safety

Thatch, Fires, Woodburners and Chimneys

The Facts

At last, an excellent article from Alison Henry (Senior Architectural Conservator in the Building Conservation and Research Team at Historic England) and Jim Glockling (Technical Director of the Fire Protection Association and Director of RISC Authority) published in The Building Conservation Directory on ‘Thatch Fires and the role of woodburning stoves’.   Having spoken to the NFU Mutual this week, their further official guidance will also soon be coming our way for us to spread the word on woodburners and thatch.

Forensic Investigation of 148 recent thatch fires from Burgoynes had shown us that the main cause of thatch fires is ejected embers, with a greater risk being posed by woodburner installations with low chimneys.  We have shared this and promoted this information, because understanding the causes and risks means that reducing them, and ultimately the number of thatch fires, has to be the next step.

This new research adds positively to this information, further confirming that the heat transfer theory has not been proven.  So don’t just line a chimney to meet building regulations but be aware of the risk of sparks and avoid a chimney fire at all costs.

Thatch Fire Safety

Our risk page has been adjusted and the reducing the risks page also updated with more detailed  information to help you reduce the risk of thatch fire.

The number of enquiries we get on this topic shows that people want to use fires and woodburners and we are trying to help with the current data on this important subject.

The wheels turn more slowly with organisations and the many papers, and diagrams from the past in pamphlets and on the internet are still being regurgitated even though they are out of date and, perhaps are part of the reason that the number of thatch fires has hardly reduced over the last 20 years.

Let’s work together to promote the good stuff and get these numbers down. Our advice:-

  • Sweep your chimney
  • Avoid a chimney fire eg tar build up, birds nests
  • Burn seasoned wood
  • Take care when lighting and refuelling the fire
  • Spark arresters are to be avoided, if not clean they are a hazard
  • Height of chimney dispersing embers is also a factor

Read our updated thatch fire risk and reducing the risk pages on our website

Be aware, understand and reduce your risks.   Always keep your insurers informed of any changes.

The Thatch Advice Centre are happy to help and are doing our best in communicating with everyone and helping in the Fight against thatch fires.