12 Top Ways to Prevent or Minimize Barn Fires
According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), heating equipment and electrical malfunction are the leading causes of barn fires. These fires are more common during the colder winter months.
With winter approaching, stable owners and managers are reminded of the precautions that can be taken to prevent a fire loss. Protection of life and property is a concern we all share. The following list is surely not complete but is intended to raise awareness.
1. Tall grass and weeds contribute to the rapid spread of fire. Keep areas mowed and cleared of debris near buildings and under trees.
2. Clear the cob webs. They don’t just detract from a neat appearance but are another way of spreading fire rapidly.
3. Proper hay storage is critical to your safety plans. Make sure it is dry and stays dry while in storage. Preferably, it should be stored in a building away from the stable. This is not always practical or feasible so good ventilation is important.
4. Make sure fire extinguishers are in each building and fully charged. They should be checked every 12 months. Also, make sure your employees know how to use them!
5. Does your local fire department know exactly where you are located so they can respond without delay? If you haven’t done so, consider inviting them to your property so they can familiarize themselves with what actions may be helpful or necessary for them to perform. They may also have safety tips you may have overlooked.
6. Have hose lines available near each building so that as much area as possible can be reached. You may not be able to put the fire out but you may be able to help contain it while waiting for the fire department to respond.
7. Inspect all electrical systems at least every three months. Are the electrical fixtures free of dust, dirt, cob webs, chaff, hay or combustible materials? Never use extension cords as an electrical line on a permanent basis.
8. Install cages around the light fixtures.
9. Do not leave space heaters unattended. Keep them away from flammable materials.
10. Store fuel away from the stables, hay storage building and dwelling(s).
11. Practice an evacuation plan for the horses; which horses go to which safe area. Do a drill at night. Get the horses used to flashlights. Remain as calm as possible as the horses will react to your fear.
12. Enforce “No Smoking Allowed”!
In addition to the above, make sure your horse insurance and farmowners policies are in place with adequate limits to restore you should a loss occur.
Rapid response is essential if fire is detected. Be prepared for emergency evacuation. Do you have a plan?