Risk Management Advisory: Fire Places/Chimneys and Thatched Structures

By Atta's Insurance and Risk Management Advisors SATIB:

Winter is upon us which means more people will be using different means to keep warm over the next few months.

With these come unforeseen dangers with fire places, chimneys and electrical installations around thatched structures.

Fact: Although fires in a thatch roof are not common, over 90% start as a result of a faulty flue or chimney.

Here are some key action steps to make sure you are properly prepared:

Chimneys

• Ensure the mortar is 'sound' throughout the length of the chimney stack together with associated linings and timbers, every 3 years.

• A Thatcher should check the hidden section when re - thatching.

• The exhaust aperture should be at least 1 m away from the point closest to the roof.

• Have the chimney swept along its entire length by a competent person at least once per year, before and after the main burning season.

• Do not burn wet or unseasoned wood, as this will leave greater deposits in the flue.

Spark arrestors

• No longer recommended due to clogging (either naturally or through a lack of maintenance) - restricting the free flow of combustion gases. If in place, ensure regular cleaning with the chimney.

Electrical

• Check and test the electrical installation by a qualified electrical contractor at least every 5 years. 

• Loft wiring should be in conduit but not attached to rafters which carry the thatch.

• Do not place high wattage security lights near the thatch / overhangs. 

• Do not cut recessed lighting into the ceilings below the thatch. 

• Use bulk head light fittings in the roof space 

• Overhead electric supply cables need to be prevented from coming in to contact with the thatched roof or nearby trees.

Kitchen Extraction Systems

• Clean filters weekly. Have the entire system (filters / canopy / ducting) cleaned at least annually by appropriate contractors

TV Aerials / Satellite Dish

• Do not fit on or near chimney stacks. Fit on a freestanding pole at least 6 meters from the building. Fix the cable to brickwork avoiding contact with the thatch.

• Overhead telephone lines - Stop telephone lines coming in to contact with the thatched roof or nearby trees.