How you can help prevent barn fires!
- This is definitely a topic that all barn owners, boarders, and horse lovers should be aware of. Horse barn fires can have a lot of sources – human and otherwise, and therefore the list of things to look out for is LONG… but let’s tackle it.
Make sure your fire extinguisher is designed to put out barn fires!
Reduce the chance a spark or heat will ignite dust, hay, or bedding in the barn:
- No smoking in or around the barn or on the property or maybe even the block.
- No motorized vehicles in or around the barn. Sparks, engine heat, backfires and even exhaust can be hot enough to spark a fire.
- No naked wires. All wiring should be in metal conduit. Have a certified electrician check your wires, outlets, etc. Make sure you have an actual circuit breaker.
- Outlets are covered and you have GFI outlets near water sources.
The wires in this barn are securely covered with metal conduit. Keeps dust, bugs, rodents, nosy horses out of trouble. You should have it all inspected regularly, just in case.
Move things around in the barn to reduce the risk of fire:
- Hay and bedding should ideally be stored in another building, far away from the barn if possible. Hay can combust all by itself.
- Fertilizers, chemicals, paints, and cleaners belong in a shed far away from the barn.
- If you have wooden structures like railroad ties around your barn, perhaps for the carrot garden, try using a concrete stone instead. RR ties can accelerate combustion.
- Move brush and other plant materials away from the barn.
- Store gasoline containers for your tractor and other farm equipment far from the barn.
- Vent your laundry dryer away from any dust or bedding or hay. Keep the vent clean.
Use covers on switches and outlets!
Add some stuff to your barn to prevent fires:
- Heat sensors can be good in a barn. Smoke detectors can get confused with dust and might go off without a fire present. As if I was making toast or boiling water in your barn.
- Lightning rods can save your barn by channeling a lightning strike to the ground.
- Sprinkler systems are a great idea, too, and many barns can be retrofitted with them.
- Have charged-up fire extinguishers in the barn, know how to use them, and be sure they are the general-purpose ABC type. You can also get a class A water tank/can that can be recharged and pumped up by you. These are nice to have near hay storage and can hold 2.5 gallons of water to spray around.
Practice evacuations in case of fire.
- Make sure your fire department knows how to access your farm. What gate or driveway, where to park, how to turn around, where things are located, etc. I guarantee they will be happy to come over and check things out.
Does the Fire Department know how to get to your farm?
- Make sure your horses are fine if approached in the dark, with flashlights, by scary-looking people. Practice at night by wearing tacky hats, weird jackets that make noise, and carry flashlights.
- If you choose to blindfold and lead out, make sure your horses will do that. This may be a horse myth from my childhood that just hasn’t faded away. Remember that they will be in full panic mode during a fire. Your only option might be to set them free. AFTER YOU HAVE CALLED 911. If it’s not safe for you, don’t even try it.
- Have a plan/location of where to put your horses once they are out of the barn. This could be paddocks, round pens, or a neighbor’s property.
- Have reliable phone service so you can call 911. Make sure the barn address is posted near a landline phone.
What ideas have I forgotten?