There is nothing more tragic than a barn fire and most fires are due to human carelessness. There are many fire hazards in the average barn that most people are not aware of. Portable heaters, faulty wiring, cigarettes, hot plates, over-loaded fuse boxes are just a few. Other causes of fire can be lightning, spontaneous combustion and arson. If you are constructing a new barn, there are safety measures you can build in. If you have an older barn or are remodeling an older barn, look for hidden dangers and change what you can.
Some tips on fire prevention include:
- installing a phone in your barn can save valuable minutes when reporting a fire;
- a sprinkler system is ideal if you can afford to have one installed;
- smoke detectors can warn you when you’re in the vicinity of the barn; more elaborate systems can be set up to sound off in your house;
- have fire extinguishers every 75 feet and check them regularly to make sure they are operational;
- install a lightning rod on the roof of the barn;
- store hay and bedding away from the barn; buy and store only dry or well-cured hay to prevent spontaneous combustion;
- post ‘no smoking’ signs in clear view and have a zero tolerance policy for smokers;
- protect light bulbs with wire cages to prevent accidental breaking;
- thread wiring through metal or plastic conduit pipes so that curious horses and rodents can’t chew through it;
- move flammable items like oily rags, loose hay and scrap lumber away from the barn and its perimeter;
- hang a halter and lead rope on or near each stall door for quick access;
- make sure all doors open easily and quickly;
- stall skittish or easily frightened horses near the door.
Practice putting a halter on a horse quickly – have someone time you. It is wise to have a plan and practice a fire drill. Some fire departments will cooperate with a practice fire drill and offer to inspect your barn for fire safety.