Date: 31st August, 2016
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is using National Chimney Fire Safety Week to highlight the risk of fire in thatched properties.
During w/c 5 September, the Service is holding a number of information days around Wiltshire. At each event, firefighters will be on hand to advise home owners on the best ways of keeping their properties safe from fire.
Crew Manager Shaun Milton, from the rural safety team, explained: “As a county, Wiltshire has the second largest number of thatched properties in England. We have been successful in bringing down the number of fires involving homes with thatched roofs, but we are very aware of the devastation that such blazes can cause – as such, we want to keep educating people about how they can help themselves.”
Although the events are targeted at people who own or live in thatched homes, anyone can ask for fire safety advice – the sessions are as follows:
- Tuesday 6 September – Salisbury Market Place, 9am to 4pm
- Wednesday 7 September – Marlborough High Street, 9am to 4pm
- Thursday 8 September – Devizes Market Place, 9am to 1pm
Part of the display will be a miniature thatched roof, provided by a local thatcher, so that people can see first-hand how thatch is put together and the challenges it presents to fire crews.
Amongst the top safety tips for a thatched property are:
- Have the chimney swept regularly by a qualified chimney sweep.
- Only burn seasoned wood.
- 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.
- Fit a bird guard to deter birds from building nests in chimneys.
- Smoke alarms should be installed throughout your home. If you have a loft space then an interlinked smoke alarm should be installed which is linked to at least one other within the property.
- Be careful when using blowtorches or heat guns (if plumbing or painting etc).
- Restrict the use of bonfires near to your property.
- Consider a system of heat sensors within the thatch around the chimney. This will give you an early warning of any overheating of the thatch.
- Consider forming a fireproof barrier between the roof timbers and the thatch layer when renovating or undertaking re-roofing. A thatch fire will be mainly restricted to the thatch and damage to the rest of the house will be limited.
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service offers free home fire safety checks to anyone who lives in a thatched home – call 0800 038 2323 to request a visit. Alternatively, go to www.dwfire.org.uk/thatched-properties for more information.