I hate to see these kinds of news stories: Last week there was news of another barn fire that took the lives of 14 horses in Bedford, NH. It’s a terrible tragedy and sadly, is something that happens far too often. While the cause of this fire remains undetermined, it is important to know that there are many ways that the risk of fires in a barn can be reduced. News of these types of events should provide a wake up call for all barn owners, managers and horse owners to pay special attention to your daily maintenance routine, your operation and to look for long term design improvements that begin to reduce the risk of fire. There are lots of things that can be done to maintain a healthy and safe environment for horses.
Thorough cleaning procedures, i.e. removal of cobwebs from light fixtures, removing excess hay and bedding where it accumulates, removing of trash and isolation of cleaning fluids and other flammable products are just some of the areas to focus on. Others are more long term and permanent such as keeping all electrical equipment in good serviceable working order, running all electrical wires through conduits (to prevent those pesky barn mice from chewing through the plastic lined wiring), and proper hay and bedding storage can all significantly reduce the risk of fire in a barn.
Furthermore, do not store motorized equipment in or around your hay storage. I recall a barn fire a few years ago when a barn worker cranked up a small mower to mow around the barn, the mower back fired, ignited a bale of hay siting close by and before anyone could do anything about it, the barn went up in flames. So it pays to always remain conscious of the hazards that exist in a barn and make sure fire extinguishers are posted at least at each end of the barn and another at the center. Though I’ve seen many locations where fire extinguishers were improperly or poorly mounted, I don’t recall a case where there were too many.
These are just a few of the issues to always remain aware of. There are so many more. I could go on and on….