Here’s what people living in thatched homes are advised about reducing fire risk

West Sussex councillors have asked for fire safety information aimed at people living in thatched homes to be shared more widely.

Thatched roof property
Thatched roof property

During a scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday (November 23), members were updated on the work and progress of the West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service between April 2020 and March 31, 2021.

This included fire prevention work and risk assessments – an area John Charles (Con, Felpham) described as ‘vitally important’.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Twice this year, crews from Bognor, Littlehampton, Chichester, Worthing and others have been called to tackle serious fires in thatched roofs – the first in Felpham in May and the second in Middleton-on-Sea in August.

Deputy chief fire officer Mark Andrews told the meeting that a leaflet pack had since been put together, providing advice and safety information for people who live in thatched homes.

Mr Charles thanked Mr Andrews for his help in providing safety information to the Felpham Parish Council – and the deputy fire chief told Jacky Pendleton (Con, Middleton) that he would be happy to share that with other parishes as well.

Mr Andrews added: “We’ve put together a leaflet pack and some information for those homes that have that particular risk, as well publicising it more broadly around the county so that other parishes and other communities can learn from the experience you’ve had.

“And we will make sure that, in the coming winter months particularly, that those homes are targeted with those leaflets and that advice to hopefully make the right decisions in terms of their prevention – particularly chimneys and having a working smoke detector.”

Property owners should:

Install smoke alarms throughout the home and an interlinked smoke alarm for the loft space.

Consider a system of heat sensors within the thatch and around the chimney for early warning if thatch is overheating.

It is important to insulate the chimney flue to prevent 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.

Fit a ‘bird guard’ to the chimney to deter birds from building nests.

Have the electrical system throughout your home checked by a qualified electrician to ensure cables are installed correctly. 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, set off fireworks or light sky lanterns near your property. It’s a good idea to discuss this with your neighbours too.

If you discover a fire, get out, stay out and dial 999.