Thatched fires are very preventable, through proper understanding of risks and how to manage them. And yet, many thatched homes are being burned, sometimes beyond repair, every year. This results in drastic and unnecessary loss in funds for both the homeowners, as well as the fire services.
Specialist thatch insurers, along with fire services, and the NSMT have put great effort into spreading understanding of how to minimise the risk of thatched roofs setting alight. Currently, the largest number of serious thatch fires is in older thatched properties often with multi-layered thatch, unsuitable chimneys and wood burning stoves.
Below, are some tips on how to reduce the risk, and impact of thatched fires:
Keep chimneys well swept, as well as free of birds nests and soot build up. It’s also important to check that the integrity of your chimney is suitable; this can be checked using camera inspection.
Use a word guard to prevent birds from nesting in the flue, while not allowing build ups of soot and twigs/leaves. Spark arresters work for this, but pose a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and lowering efficiency.
Call 999 as soon as you detect a fire. If possible, let the authorities know where the nearest supplementary water supply is and describe the thatch in as much detail as possible. Try to mention the material type, whether it’s multi layer, and if there’s fire board fitted.
Try to detect the fire as early as possible. This may be hard as thatched fires can be burning for hours before they’re noticed, due to lack of oxygen. However, when the fire is exposed to sufficient oxygen it will go up and spread very quickly.
As with most things, prevention is much better than a cure as, even if a thatched roof can be rebuilt, it’s still a piece of Kenyan heritage that’s been lost and forgotten. We hope that this information has given you a better idea of how to prevent a thatch fire.
If you’d like to a consultation to assess the safety of your current thatched roof, and any re-thatching services that you might need, click here to talk to our Makuti Thatcher.