White Watch from Andover’s fire station attended a training this week with Master Thatcher, Adam Follon and Tom Scarlett (www.adamfollon.com), to help prepare the fire and rescue team for any thatch fires they are called out to.

The team of four were able to climb up onto the roof that is being thatched by Adam and Tom. As the fire-fighters started to pull down the top layer of thatch from the roof, Adam and Tom were on hand to give advice about how to release the thatch quicker in the event of a fire.

Watch Commander, Kevin Francis told Andover & Villages, “These trainings are invaluable. When we are called out to a thatch fire, there is no time to train effectively in how best to remove the thatch, so being able to come out and work with a local thatcher is really helpful in understanding how the roof has been put up and more importantly, how to get it down quickly.”

The team spent over an hour with the thatchers, fire-fighter Tim said, “I haven’t attended a thatch fire yet, so it has been really helpful to understand how the thatch is put on with the pins and how to get the thatch down in large sections.”

Hampshire Fire & Rescue have prepared the following safety tips to help prevent or reduce the spread of fire in thatched properties;

Chimneys and flues

keep chimneys in good condition: re-point or line as necessary any re-thatch or major ridge job should have all material taken from around the chimney so that it can be checked and repaired if needed

the chimney, if used by any appliance producing flue gases, should be linked according to the manufacturer’s specification and, in the case of solid fuels, should be swept regularly the top of the stack should be no closer than 1.8 metres from the ridge vertically and, in the case of a stack in the wall, 4 metres vertically from any thatch surface

do not build, rebuild or design chimneys which pass close to or through thatch without appropriate expert advice

do not pass metal and other heat conducting flues through a thatch

spark arrestors should be fitted and maintained/cleaned on a regular basis

Smoke alarms

most thatch fires start in the roof space and, due to the thickness of the roof, may not be apparent for many hours

fit low voltage, mains powered, linked smoke alarms

Electrical wiring/lighting

all electrical wiring in the loft space should be routed in appropriate fire retardant ducting

do not cut recessed lighting into the ceilings below the thatch

light fittings within the roof space should be in a bulkhead fitting

external floodlights should not be located just under thatch overhangs

Fireworks, bonfires and garden fires

if you have barbecues, bonfires or firework parties make sure they are not too close to the house and be sensible with garden fires

Contractors

ensure any person working in or on the house is aware of the dangers which the careless use of naked flame can bring

blow lamps are not safe to use in the roof space

do not allow flame stripping of paint around eaves

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Polly has almost 20 years in the media industry. As Editor of Andover and Villages, she strives to bring the latest and greatest news with a minutes notice. Polly can be contacted via editor@andoverandvillages.co.uk or alternatively called at