Barn Fire Prevention

Ways to keep your horses and barn safe this winter.

Barn fires recently wrought havoc on barns in Maine and Minnesota, bringing devastation and sadness.

In Windham, Maine, a fire broke out at 5 a.m. December 10 in a barn at Spruce Hill Farm, killing eight show horses inside. The horses made up 75 percent of Maine's 2008 All American Quarter Horse Congress youth team. The Maine youth team members lost their tack, as well. If you'd like to donate saddles, bridles, blankets, bits, bell boots, etc., e-mail Jill Noyes.

In Verndale, Minnesota, a fire broke out at 6 a.m. December 21 in a barn at R & J Horse Sales. Forty-one American Quarter Horses and one foal were killed. The horses were competing at a team penning/ranch sorting event.

Need a last-minute gift for a horse showing fan? Check out AQHA's Beginner's Guide to Showing report. You can download and print it instantly in full-color.

Fire Prevention Checklist

Keep this list handy, courtesy of Laurie Loveman. Visit her Web site, firesafetyinbarns.com, for more tips on keeping your horse safe from fire.

Using this checklist, walk through your barn and see what needs to be corrected.

Mark this form with Yes or No next to each question to identify problem areas that need correction.

_____ Are aisleways and doorways clear of debris or "stored" objects?

_____ Are cobwebs removed weekly, if not more often?

_____ Are all electric motors on both fixed and portable appliances completely sealed?

_____ Have all lightweight (lamp-type) extension cords been removed?

_____ If extension cords are in use (temporarily only) are they industrial or heavy-duty rated?

_____ Are any electrical cords hanging from or supported by nails?

_____ Is all permanent electrical wiring in conduit?

_____ Are cages installed over all light bulbs?

_____ Is there a master electric power switch on the outside of the barn?

_____ Is there a frost-proof water hydrant at or near the entrance to the barn?

_____ Is there a water hose long enough to reach the opposite end of the barn?

_____ Is hay stored stored in a shed or in another building at least 100 feet from the barn?

_____ Is hay dry and well-cured? Is hay in a waterproof area?

_____ Is stall bedding stored in an area away from the animals?

_____ Is used stall bedding (manure pile) kept in an area away from the barn?

_____ Have cleaning cloths contaminated with any petroleum product been properly disposed of?

_____ Is a sign with fire department information posted by the telephone?

_____ Is an emergency animal escape plan displayed?

_____ If you have a "runway" exit to a pasture, have all animals been trained to use it?

_____ Can fire apparatus reach the barn? (Check road surface, gate and curbs)

_____ Have you invited your fire department to visit your property for purposes of making a pre-plan?

Once you've identified the possible problem areas, visit firestafetyinbarns.com for solutions.