Thatch safety
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Thatched Living

Living in a thatched property doesn't mean you are any more at risk from fire, but it does mean you need to consider your fire safety and maintain your home to prevent fire. 

Although thatch fires are not common, over 90% of thatch roof fires start as a result of a faulty flue or chimney. The thatch is designed to repel water which makes extinguishing these fires difficult. 

Always check with your insurance provider about your level of cover and what precautions they require you to carry out. 

Did you know?

Once a fire starts in a thatched roof it is almost impossible to control

Your chimney

Old or poorly maintained chimneys can deteriorate to the point where smoke and hot gases can escape from the chimney into the upper rooms, the roof space or directly into the thatch. 

  • Ensure any alterations, construction, electric or gas work to your property is carried out by a registered engineer
  • Sweep your chimney at least twice a year - in autumn and early spring
  • Keep your chimney in good working order, for example by fitting a bird guard to prevent birds from nesting and blocking the flue


Check your insurance policy for their additional requirements


Heating your home – open fires and wood burners

Burn seasoned or kiln-dried wood stored in a dry airy place. The moisture content of the wood should be below 20%. Check this by using a moisture sensing probe. 

Don’t burn any other waste material, stoves aren’t designed for this and it can lead to blocked chimneys or flues.

For more advice on heating your home click here for our Safe & Warm leaflet: 


  • Is a working smoke alarm fitted on every level of your home?
  • Do you test your smoke alarm works once a week?
  • Have you regularly inspected your chimney or paid someone to inspect it for you?
  • Do you only burn seasoned wood?
  • Do you check all tradespeople are registered engineers and are aware of potential fire risks?
  • Do you regularly sweep your chimney?
  • Do you use fireguards with open fires?
  • Is a bird guard fitted to prevent nests blocking your flue?
  • Have you had problems with pest control in your thatch?



It’s really important you check your level of cover with your insurance provider and ensure you are following their guidelines. 

For example, some insurance providers make it part of your policy to have a garden hose on standby. Some state how often spark arrestors need to be cleaned, and what size the flue outlet should be.

Not following your policy could have devastating financial consequences.

Remember you may have two separate insurance policies with different companies, one for the building and one for contents. Ensure you check both policies and make sure any valuables are listed.

Did you know?

The damage from a thatch fire is nearly always going to be substantial

Be prepared

Protect your home by fitting a smoke alarm on every level of your home, ideally on the ceiling of a hallway or landing

  • Test once a week
  • Always follow the manufacturer's advice

For more advice on smoke alarms click here:


If a fire occurs - get out, stay out, call 999

  • Keep all exits clear
  • Have a plan B. The front door is usually your first option, but have a plan B, if plan A is blocked
  • Keep door and window keys accessible


For more advice on planning your escape routes click here:

Let the fire service help you

By listing valuable and sentimental possessions in our Thatched Living pack, and indicating where they can be found on the floor plan, you can help our crews to locate and attempt to recover items from your home.

Never take items with you when you leave your home. Items could hinder your escape and delay you calling 999.

Did you know?

Thatch fires burn slowly which may allow time for possessions to be salvaged by the fire service