There are no devices on the market which can remedy inappropriate installations and irresponsible practices. To put the selection of various commercial devices into context, no device is a substitute for proper maintenance, good practice and a thorough understanding of thatch fire risk management. Remember when seeking advice it is often being given by someone trying to sell you something! Smoke alarms are essential for the preservation of life, but by the time they have detected smoke, it will be too late to save the thatch.
As thatch is classified as a flammable material Approved Document J requires (in Paragraph 2.18 Separation of Combustible Materials from fireplaces and flues) “Combustible material should not be located where it could be ignited by the heat dissipated through the walls of fireplaces or flues”. Compliance with Approved Document J of the Building Regulations requires that any work carried out on an appliance or chimney is notifiable to the local authority (usually via the HETAS compliance certificate). A material change of any part of the combustion system (appliance or chimney) will require the complete combustion system to be brought into compliance with current Building Regulations. When buying a property, make sure any compliance certificate is available and current before lighting the fire.
There are only two safety products worth considering. On the left a 6 mm aluminium heat sink inserted during re thatching between the chimney and the thatch. On the right a chimney temperature monitor which helps users manage the stove at a consistent efficient combustion temperature.
- Bird Guards: are essential and should be fitted on all open chimneys.
- The current design of spark arrestors offer little benefit and can add to the risks.
- Historic England advice does not permit the removal of any thatch layers. Taking off a couple of the most recent layers would reduce risk and improve the effectiveness of fire-fighting.
- Increasing the chimney height will not solve any problems. It could create new ones including structural damage.