The words “barn” and “fire” are two words that no barn owner wants to hear in the same sentence. According to The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 830 barn fires occurred between 2006 and 2010. Barn fires can be quite hard to recover from, leaving a heavy burden and devastation on owners. Fortunately, there are plenty of preventative measures you can take to keep you and your animals safe from barn fires. Of course, we all have learned the basics of fire safety, but it is still a good idea to inspect your barn and review your policies and procedures periodically, just to make sure you’re not overlooking any hazards or getting complacent. Below are a few tips to consider following that could potentially save many lives.
First and foremost, you should never, ever allow smoking in, near, or around your barn! This rule should apply to anyone that steps foot on your property. Whether friends, family, boarders, or workers, all it takes is one tiny ember to fall into your hay or straw and your barn can be wiped out in less than 15 minutes. Posting no smoking signs is something to consider also if you are worried about when you are not around. These signs can help deter people from breaking your barn rules!
Second, if you are able to, you should never store your hay, straw, or other types of bedding in the same barn as your animals. If you have another shed or storage area away from the barn, we recommend putting your hay and bedding there. Not only is hay and bedding fuel for the fire, but if hay is baled and stored before it is properly dried, there’s a risk for spontaneous combustion in the center, where the moisture and heat are under pressure. Once your hay is stored, it is important to monitor the temperature to determine if the hay is at risk of combustion. If at any time the temperature of your hay climbs to 175 °Fahrenheit or higher, call the fire department; with the assistance of the fire department, remove the hot hay from the storage area.
Third, when designing your barn opt for paddock doors. Regardless if you have paddocks built off your barn, having a secondary equine exit such as a Dutch door or sliding paddock door can be a lifesaver if a fire does happen. In barns that have stalls with no access to outer walls, having several cross aisles is imperative to quick evacuation. Plan ahead by preparing an evacuation plan and training all barn staff and members on what to do in case of an emergency.
There are so many different ways in which you can take fire safety precautions in a barn and around horses. After you have taken the steps to make your barn “fire safe”, you may want to consider having your local fire department come out for an inspection. They will be able to look over your property and barn to ensure that there are no further hazards you may have missed. If you have any questions or if you are looking for an experienced team to help design, build, and outfit custom horse stalls and barns for your horses, contact Sterling Equine today.