Mitigate summer lightning strike risk and tick insurance compliance boxes for your thatched roof

It is no longer necessary to install a 30-metre long mast as the only option for lightning protection for residential or commercial thatched roof structures. This is thanks to DEHN’s external protection system for installation on thatched buildings, the High Voltage resistant Insulated (HVI) lightning protection system, which is compact and more aesthetically pleasing then the traditional 30 metre mast.

Kirk Risch, sales and marketing director at DEHN Africa, an expert in surge and lightning protection, notes that with DEHN Africa’s alternative lightning protection option, the vulnerability of a thatched roof to lightning strikes is substantially mitigated, without the need to erect the typical mast that we are so used to seeing in South Africa.

He says, “Thatched roofs are very popular in South Africa and are to be found in rural communities, many urban developments, both commercial and residential, as well as in game lodges. They are regarded as being aesthetically pleasing, especially where there is a desire to make the structures ‘blend’ into the environment.”

“Of course, thatched roofs are also known to be far more susceptible to catching alight as a result of a lightning strike than any other roof type, as outlined by the South African National Standard , SANS 10313. Many local areas are prone to high incidents of lightning strikes, including Gauteng as well as the northern regions and some coastal areas of the country, and so this makes a thatched roof even more susceptible to this danger. In addition to considerations around the protection of human life, this increased fire risk also has implications for the insurance industry.”

Risch points out the enormous loss to property sustained in the Cape St Francis fires of November 2012, in which around 80 thatched roof residential properties were destroyed or badly damaged from a fire that very quickly raged out of control. He notes that while this fire was not caused by lightning, it shows just how flammable thatched roofs can become, and how quickly they can be set alight without proper protective measures in place.

Risch comments, “This was a huge story in the insurance industry at the time.  A large percentage of insurance claims on thatched roof houses are, understandably, fire-related and a house can burn to the ground in 10 minutes flat, so from an insurance perspective, the claim often becomes a total loss. The 2012 St Francis fires showed the necessity for the owners of thatched roof buildings to make sure that their properties are adequately insured, as well as adequately protected.

“There are various fire retardant treatments available in the market, which are effective in delaying the spread of a fire over an entire thatched roof. In addition, the installation of a DEHN lightning protection system (LPS) on a thatched roof offers protection from lightning strike and peace of mind from the perspective of insurance cover requirements.”

Risch says DEHN Africa can assist homeowners and business owners to enjoy the aesthetics provided by a thatched roof structure, while knowing that they can avoid lightning-related disasters through the provision of LPS components for use specifically on thatched roofs.

“DEHN Africa recommends the HVI lighting protection system for all those in South Africa living in thatched risk structures. The LPS is easy to install on new constructions and simple to convert for existing structures that previously relied on the traditional lightning rod,” he concludes.

Market leader DEHN, a globally active family-owned electrotechnical company with more than 1700 employees worldwide, offers innovative products and solutions as well as comprehensive services in the field of surge protection, lightning protection and safety equipment. DEHN focuses on the protection of system and building technology, the transportation, telecommunication and process sector, photovoltaic systems, wind turbines, etc. The company’s continuous growth is based on more than 100 years of tradition and experience as well as highest quality standards and consistent customer and market orientation throughout the world.

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