Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Preventing barn fires

On Sunday there was a bad barn fire in the north metro area of Denver. A number of horses were killed — originally they said 8 died, but now think it was more like 12.

In this case the police suspect arson, but it brings up a subject I've been meaning to blog on: how to prevent barn fires. Since hay can spontaneously combust, anyone who keeps horses needs to know what to do in order to minimize the risk of fire.

Here are the basic precautions to take. Readers, let me know if I've left something out!

* Store hay in a separate structure, or at least away from the barn, if possible
* Don't allow hay to get wet (damp hay can spontaneously combust)
* Be sure your hay storage area is well ventilated — structures should have a high roof and
* Sweep the aisles and don't let hay scraps, shavings, etc. build up

* Don't allow smoking in the barn

It surprises me how many barns fail to prohibit smoking inside the barn. I've watched people casually drop their cigarettes inside the barn, even when there is hay underfoot. Considering what is at stake, I would think boarders and barn owners alike would be more concerned about this!

Anyway, I'm sure I've forgotten something — can you think of anything else?



At May 11, 2010 at 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have smoke detectors in our barn, with a direct line to our security company and the fire department. Another important thing is to sweep cobwebs - especially in the loft and tops of stalls - they can trap flammable particles and spread fire quickly. Also, be sure barn doors are always easily opened, and that halters are hung in an easily accessible manner. Inviting your local fire department for a visit to give advice on fire safety and perhaps a training session on how to lead horses isn't a bad idea either.

At May 11, 2010 at 5:03 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Those are all great ideas, Kate. Your last suggestion reminded me that I heard someone was injured Sunday trying to free a panicked horse.

At May 11, 2010 at 8:37 PM, Blogger Leslie Wenstrom said...

Can hay really spontaneously combust???? I never heard that before.....

At May 11, 2010 at 8:50 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Oh my God, I know something you don't? Pardon me while I do my HAPPY DANCE....


Yes, hay can spontaneously combust, usually more likely if it's damp. You can find tons of information if you do a Google search, but here is a good paper on the subject:

Spontaneous Combustion in Hay Stacks


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