Three Easy Steps to Prevent Fire in Your Barn

by Matt

Three Easy Steps to Prevent Fire in Your Barn

Recently, several barns across the country have been destroyed by massive fires. It’s every horseman’s nightmare, but there are ways to lessen the risk of fire and even suppress fires once they do start.

But what’s that old saying? An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure?  Sadly, President Lincoln experienced a tragedy of his own, as I wrote about in

Let’s talk fire prevention. Here are three steps you can take right now to reduce the risk of a fire your barn and make it safer for your horses and livestock.

Get Signs: Barns are full of signs. “Keep Gate Closed,” “Turn Off Lights Before Leaving,” and that liability sign most states require. Here are two signs that contribute to fire safety: a “No Smoking” sign, and a clear sign with street number at the farm entrance.

A non-smoking barn might seem like a no-brainer, but boarders’ friends, construction workers, or delivery people might not realize that barns and cigarettes don’t mix. Post “No Smoking” signs throughout your barn, and enforce them religiously. Barns must have zero tolerance for anything that could cause a spark.

The sign at your farm entrance isn’t for your clients — it’s for emergency workers. A dimly lit, unmarked farm lane is an emergency response nightmare. Make sure your driveway and address are clearly marked and wide enough for fire trucks to access with ease. Include the street address on farm signs, as the emergency dispatch system won’t mention your farm’s name.

Cleanliness: You might keep a spit-spot barn already, but it’s not the clean-swept aisle or the tidy tack room that are the fire dangers here. Many of us shrug about ever-present dust and cobwebs, but these are potential fire starters as well. Clear flammable cobwebs from corners regularly, and make sure that electrical outlets and switches are dusted.

Outside, keep clutter, dry vegetation, and manure well away from the barn. Static manure piles produce heat as they decompose, and are known to spontaneously combust, and possibly explode. A safer, and more effective way of composting has been developed by Peter Moon of O2Compost, An example of this type of storage system can be seen at

Get Storage Space: Do you store a month’s worth of hay in the barn with your horses? What about machinery or fuel? These are all sources of the sparks that start many a barn fire. Consider storage space outside of the barn for mechanical implements or hay and bedding. The less flammable material in your barn, the better!

These are three easy actions that you can take this week to make your barn safer and reduce the risk of a fire. Get started on a safety program and be vigilant! Your barn and your horses are worth the trouble.

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