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THATCH PROPERTY OWNERS URGED TO CHECK CHIMNEYS

thatchcottageLeading rural insurer NFU Mutual has chosen Chimney Fire Safety Week to launch its new fire safety campaign ‘Assets to Ashes’.

Chimney Fire Safety Week, an initiative promoted by the Chief Fire Officers Association, begins today (Monday 7th September) as the cooler, winter months approach and people begin using their wood burning stoves and open fires again.

Focussing on thatch fire in the South East, NFU Mutual is working in partnership with Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service to urge thatch property owners to take a few necessary precautions before lighting the first fire of the season.

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NFU Mutual expects its claims bill for 2014 thatch fire claims to be £2.6 million, and chimney fire claims are expected to cost an additional £3.9 million in 2014 with 10% of the fires occurring in the South East.

Although thatch fires are not common, over 90% of thatch roof fires start as a result of a faulty flue or chimney. Chimneys and flues should be kept clean, well maintained and should be swept on a regular basis by a qualified professional chimney sweep.

NFU Mutual’s data shows that the most chimney fire claims were made in January 2014 (20%) and March 2014 (19%). This highlights that it is important to keep your chimney well maintained and swept on a regular basis by a qualified professional chimney sweep.

Speaking about the problem, Mark Abram from the Chief Fire Officers Association said:

“There are around 7,000 chimney fires every year in the UK and most of these are entirely preventable. Having your chimney swept, burning the right wood and having the correct size appliance for your room are all important measures that could reduce the risk of it happening to you.

“While a chimney fire might sound like a minor incident, it can spread to other parts of the house and, in the case of a thatched property, for example, could result in your home being completely destroyed. Further help and advice is available from the website of your local fire and rescue service.”

Sam Dovey, Senior Agent at NFU Mutual New Forest, Hampshire, said:

“Many homeowners do not appreciate the additional cost of re-building a home, particularly if it is thatched, so it is important that people check that their buildings and contents are properly insured should a fire occur.”

To request a Thatch Information Pack from Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service visit www.hantsfire.gov.uk or telephone 023 8064 4000.

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