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Heating up the risk of thatched fires

Multi-fuel appliances heat up the risk of thatched fires

There are over 60,000 thatched properties in the UK – of which approximately 24,000 are listed. Over the past decade thatch-roofed fires have increased dramatically from 60-70 over a year ago to over 100 being recorded last year. With a few exceptions, most occur in older, listed properties – and over 90% are chimney related. In the first five months of 2010 there have been over 55 serious fires affecting thatched properties.

The average insurance claim for a serious thatched fire is now around £250,000. Each fire service call out costs approximately £40,000 in manpower and resources alone. Insurance policies can only reinstate in a material state: personal possessions and memorabilia are priceless and irreplaceable. These are the hidden costs of any fire damage claim.

Heat transfer is the most common cause of thatch fires in the UK. It is the combination of deep thatch and a central chimney in conjunction with the use of multi-fuel stoves that put properties most at risk. Multi-fuel stoves have grown in popularity, but they bear watching from the safety perspective.

There are a few simple points relating to multi-fuel stoves which you can follow to minimise the risk of fire:

> Multi-fuel appliances operate at a higher temperature than conventional fires and heating appliances, therefore the temperature of the stove outlet pipe should be monitored with a magnetic flue protector.
> Do not use your appliance continuously - maintain adequate cooling periods between times of usage.
> Regular bi-annual maintenance and cleaning of flues and liners is essential
> It is worthwhile having the condition of the flue and brickwork examined annually using CCTV equipment.
> Only use legitimate materials for burning
> Never let the temperature and flames get out of control
> Never leave the appliance unattended when not in use
> Do not fit spark arrestors as they become a fire hazard when clogged by soot and tar from the flue gas. Go instead for a straight, open chimney pot with nothing to obstruct the escape of the flue gas.

Keep an eagle eye on your fire and chimney and consider using a recognised chimney monitoring system which will help eliminate the risk of fire caused by heat transfer from the chimney to thatch interface. Also make sure that you have the correct insurance policy for your thatched house. Seek professional advice, contact Westhill Insurance Services for the best advice regarding your thatched property and take the heat out of your worries.

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 15th September, 2010