As beautiful as a thatch roofed building can be (and they are extremely eye catching), there are a number of thatching do’s and don’ts that need to be followed to ensure that the benefits of owning a thatch roof far outweigh any of the disadvantages.
Thatch roof owners do have to be very proactive when it comes to fire prevention. This means that they have to follow a few general thatch fire prevention guidelines that will help to minimize the risk of fire. These guidelines are:
• Always replace old thatch regularly (your qualified thatcher can provide you with information on this)! This is because old thatch is covered with loose fibers that can be easily ignited.
• It has been proven that damp thatch can release flammable gases due to decomposition, so try to keep the thatch as dry as possible. This risk is further minimized if high quality thatch raw materials are used.
• Lightning conductors must be installed in areas with frequent thunder storms. However they do have to be installed correctly and must NOT penetrate the roof itself as this greatly increases the risk of fire.
• Thatch roof owners need to be aware that the metal coping on a roof, as well as metal water or gas pipes that come in contact with the thatch, will increase the risk of fire associated with lightning. This risk can be minimized through the use of a lightning conductor.
• Electric wiring must be installed properly as wiring that is in close contact or just under the roof can increase the risk of fire. This fire risk can be because of overheating wires caused by lightning strikes (once again a lightning conductor will prevent this), short-circuits due to faulty appliances or even short-circuits caused by incorrect electrical installations. To help minimize the risk of electrical fires it is advisable to use electrical, alarm and telephone-cable lines that are installed at ground level.
General Thatching Advice
Thatch roof owners need to keep in mind a few general thatching do’s and don’ts that will ensure that they get the most out of their thatch structure. These are as simple as to keep barbeque areas away from the main thatched structure to not using fireworks near any thatched structure. It is also very prudent to keep both fire extinguishes and free and easy access to hosepipes and water sources near or at the thatched structure. It is also wise to use fire-retardant thatch raw materials such as those treated by an approved fire-retardant process.