In just a few minutes, a small spark can quickly turn into a raging fire that consumes thousands of dollars of equipment and tack – and sometimes the lives of horses. Barn fires are a horse owner’s worst nightmare, but there are a few preventative measures that can be taken to help reduce the risk.
This seems obvious to horse people, but guests or neighbors may not realize how flammable machinery and hay can be. Post signs around your property reminding that smoking is not allowed anywhere on the grounds.
Checking for damage to wiring and electrical systems throughout your facility should be a part of your routine. There are too many instances of barn fires caused by damaged wires chewed by rodents or cobwebs in outlets to skip this crucial task.
Practice common sense in regards to items in your facility that require electricity. Fans should have an enclosed motor, radios shouldn’t be left on when no one is in the barn, and all items should be unplugged when not in use.
Wet hay is at risk of combustion, so be sure hay is thoroughly dry before stacking. If possible, store your hay in a building away from your barn so that iIf a hay fire should occur, your horses will be safe.
For the same reason, horse bedding, machinery, and other flammable items should also be stored well away from your barn in a separate building. Vehicles and tractor engine heat can cause sparks.
Frequently remove cobwebs and dust from your barn, as these are flammable materials and can cause a small spark to become a tragic fire. Keep aisles free of clutter for easier access to stalls and horses during an emergency. Keep halters and lead ropes near stalls for availability in a hurry.
Smoke detectors can alert you to a fire long before you see a flame. Be sure your alarms are checked at least twice a year and batteries are changed when needed.
Fire extinguishers can douse a small fire before it can fully engulf a barn. Clearly mark the location of fire extinguishers around your facility, replace extinguishers when they expire, and teach staff when and how to properly use them.
Have an easily accessible water source a safe distance away from your barn. Not only is this beneficial in fighting the fire, but it means you can safely provide water for evacuated horses.
Ask your local fire department to walk through your barn and point out any issues that should be remedied. This not only helps you to prevent a fire, but also familiarizes the property so they know what to expect should a fire occur.
No one plans for a fire, but having an evacuation plan in place that is known by all staff and boarders can help to save lives. Post emergency contact numbers and pertinent information that emergency responders may need such as the physical address of the barn, gate codes, etc. around your facility, and also share a list with boarders and staff.
Your fire plan should include which pastures are a safe distance away that can be used to hold evacuated horses, where barn exits are to safely remove humans and horses, locations outside the barn for water access, and where fire extinguishers are located.
Even with the best preventative measures in places, barn fires can still happen. In the event that your facility catches fire:
Prevention of a barn fire should be a priority for every equine operation. StableSecretary’s communication tools can help keep all staff informed of important information to keep the risk of a barn fire to a minimum. Share emergency contact information, keep staff on top of fire prevention cleaning routines, and share your facility disaster plans directly from the barn management tool on your phone or computer.
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