In these times of fear of crime, it is easy to be very security conscious with all doors and windows securely locked. Security systems should not compromise safety. All family members should know the escape plan, where keys to locked doors are kept and how to open doors and windows for escape purposes in any moment of crisis. Planning ahead is essential.
Fire prevention officers understand thatch. Every thatched property is different, Fire Officers can advise you on the best precautions for individual situations do register your details with your local fire and rescue service. The Service can be prepared in advance to know what to expect for your property and will then be in the best position to manage the situation.
To avoid injury and to do the best for you and your property, fire fighters need to know in advance:
- The exact location of your property, particularly if you live in a rural area and the property is isolated.
- The exact location of the nearest usable water supply.
- The history of the property and the likely volume of thatch they are going to have to deal with.
- Location of any gas bottles.
- The structural stability of any chimneys.
- If your property is protected by fire board, beneath the thatch.
The officer in charge will decide a strategy based on local conditions. Water damage from fire- fighting can be worse than fire damage. Firemen are good at salvage; decide beforehand which are your most precious possessions and where they are located. Whatever happens, be prepared for a mess!
Once alight, thatch fires are almost impossible to extinguish; the success or failure in controlling a fire is early detection, and an advance understanding by the Fire and Rescue Service of the roof structure. A thatch fire requires a long time to bring under control; and this can allow fire crews time to remove possessions. In assessing the aftermath following a thatch fire, a successful outcome for fire fighters is not too much water damage, a part of the roof still in place and most of the personal effects carefully salvaged. Because burning thatch is so difficult to control owners are advised to be prepared for a serious mess. Fire-fighting will be based on damage limitation.
If safety and circumstances allow, fire fighters will endeavour to cut a break ahead of the spreading fire. Because the fire can develop unseen, and deep in the thatch it is difficult to estimate exactly where to cut a break for it to be effective. Pouring water on a burning thatched roof has little cooling effect towards fighting the fire; thatch is designed to shed water and water will penetrate less than 3 centimetres.
In the majority of cases after a serious thatch fire, families can expect to be in alternative accommodation for a minimum of a year and on most occasions for very much longer.