White thatched house with blue front door

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Reducing the risk of fire in thatched properties

Since the 1990s, the number of fires in thatched properties has risen significantly and there has been growing concern about the use of wood-burners and multi-fuel stoves in thatched homes.

As an insurer of thousands of thatched buildings we know how devastating it can be when fire strikes as results are often rapid and total.

Many of the properties which have been damaged or destroyed have been listed buildings and we wanted to investigate what could be done to help reduce the risk of fire to our thatched heritage.

In partnership with Historic England we funded a three-year research programme carried out by the Fire Protection Association. The study involved the first ever full-scale laboratory testing of wood-burning stove configurations with thatch and found that contrary to popular belief, wood-burning stoves pose a greater fire risk to thatched homes than open fires. This is because the higher temperatures and flue velocities associated with the use of a wood-burning stove can produce large sparks and embers which eject from the chimney.

The correct fitting, operation and maintenance of a wood-burning stove are essential and there are a number of key steps that owners and occupiers of thatched buildings who use wood-burning stoves can take to reduce the risk of fire.

Read the new guidance for owners of thatched buildings with wood burning and multi-fuelled stoves [2.14MB] produced by the Fire Protection Association in partnership with NFU Mutual and Historic England for more information. 

Make sure you're covered

If you decide to install a wood-burner or change your heating fuel source it's important that you inform your home insurance provider and check any relevant cover limits or exclusions on the policy.