10 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of a Barn Fire Catastrophe
It’s one of a horse owner’s worst nightmares: a barn fire. Every year we hear about the heartbreaking story of horses lost in in the flames of a burning barn. However, there are precautions you can take to prevent becoming a statistic in these horrific stories. As the seasons turn cooler, it’s the perfect time to do an audit of your barn and make necessary adjustments. While no barn can ever be 100% fire-proof, you can at least rest assured that you have done everything you can to prevent, and are prepared should the worst happen. Today, we bring you some useful tips to make sure your barn is fire-resistant.
- No smoking. You would think this would go without saying, but we feel it’s worth repeating once again. Stables are full of flammable materials and all it takes is a fallen cinder or a cigarette that wasn’t completely extinguished to set the barn ablaze.
- Store all flammable materials away from the barn. Shavings and hay should be kept in separate buildings. Make sure hay is dry when stored. Damp hay can spontaneously combust due to bacterial and microbe growth creating heat. Manure piles should also be away from the barn for the same reasons.
- Park all vehicles away from the barn when possible. Exhaust and sparks from backfires have been known to start fires.
- Make sure to regularly (at least annually) inspect electrical wiring and outlets. Look for damage such as rodents chewing on the wiring, loose wires, etc. Have any damaged wiring replaced by a certified electrician. When building new barns, be sure to use a certified electrician and look into using electrical conduit for wiring. Electrical conduit protects wiring from damage and dust. Also, don’t forget to inspect fly systems, heating systems, water heaters, etc. When using extension cords, make sure they are heavy-duty, outdoor rated cords, and never leave them plugged in when unattended.
- Keep debris in the barn to a minimum. This includes sweeping or raking up loose hay and clearing cobwebs. Hay and dusty, dry cobwebs are great fuel for a fire to burn.
- You should have multiple fire extinguishers throughout the barn, ideally at each entrance. Make sure all employees, boarders, and guests know where they are located and are easily visible and accessible. Be sure to replace extinguishers as often as recommended. A fire extinguisher is no use to you if it fails in the time of need.
- Install smoke alarms and heat detectors in the barn. Heat detectors can detect rapid changes in temperature and can set off sirens to alert people. Be sure to install smoke alarms/heat detectors where hay is stored as well. Ideally, install smoke/heat detectors that also go off in your house should the detector in the barn be triggered.
- Lightning is a common cause of barn fires. Hire a professional to properly install lightning rods that will direct the energy from the bolt deep into the ground.
- Have an evacuation plan, and go over it with employees and boarders. Visibly post the barn’s address where people can find it to give to first responders in case of an emergency.
- Make sure water sources are easily available for the fire department, should a fire occur. Also, be sure that your barn is easily accessible to first responders.
What precautions have you taken to prevent fires in your barn?