Pub fire risk is escalating with dry conditions

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Thatching, Suffolk

With a dry summer predicted, thatched-roof pubs will be particularly in danger.In Suffolk the council that has already warned licensees they face...

With a dry summer predicted, thatched-roof pubs will be particularly in danger.

In Suffolk the council that has already warned licensees they face such a threat. Gary Phillips, assistant fire chief at Suffolk County Council, said: "There has been a worrying increase in thatch fires in Suffolk this year.

"Because of this, we are proactively engaging with people who live in thatched properties to prevent thatch fires."

Mr Phillips advises licensees to fit thermometers in the thatch surrounding their pub's chimney breast to monitor its temperature. High temperatures and very dry thatch mean it can easily combust. A further warning has come from Marjorie Sanders, secretary of the National Society of Master Thatchers (NSMT), who said: "There have been in excess of 70 serious thatch fires since the beginning of 2006, including five in Easter week.

"All thatching professionals are working together to raise awareness of the major cause of preventable thatch fires which can be associated with particular usage patterns of enclosed multi-fuel stoves.

"It has been shown that older properties with a deep thatch and a central, single-skin brick chimney are the properties most at risk."

According to statistics the commonest causes of fire in thatch are: electrical faults; lightning affecting the television aerial and stray sparks from the chimneys, discarded cigarettes and garden bonfires.

In response to the problem, a new product has been launched to alert owners.

ThatchGARD promises to monitor the temperature of thatch allowing publicans to act before the fire takes hold. An alarm system is designed to alert owners before the fire spreads.

Meanwhile Tony Payne, chief executive of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers' Association, has urged licensees with pubs with thatched roofs to check their insurance.

"The most important thing is that licensees have the right policy in place," he said.

Related topics: Property law

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