Barn fires are a reality. They are a reality that none of us want to face but are something we should be prepared for. Prevention techniques

Fire destroys a barn

Winter is Barn Fire Season

and fire education are two of the most valuable tools for minimizing your risk for fire. The amount of horse owners that are not well educated about fire prevention is a shocking reality that we must address. So as we approach winter, the season for barn fires, we must remain knowledgeable and proactive.

Basic Fire Prevention


No Smoking!

  • No smoking in the barn. Never. Ever. This must be strictly enforced and “No Smoking” signs must be visibly placed throughout the property.

Fire Extinguishers

  • Depending on the size of the barn, they should be strategically distanced and the pressure gauges should be regularly checked.

Water Hydrants

  • Should be easily accessible to fire trucks and within a usable distance to your barn. Checking with your local fire department is

    Now where the fire hydrant is

    always recommended.

Emergency Contact Information

  • A list of critical phone numbers should be hung by all exits of the barn. For barn fire prevention, the numbers of the fire department and the farms’ address should be included.

Individual Halters & Leads

  • In order to evacuate each horse, they must have an individual halter and lead hanging by their stall.

Tidy Barn

  • A barn aisle cluttered with hay bales, tack, and other equipment is all fuel for a fire. Keep your aisles swept and tidy. All belongings should be organized and put away.

Well-Kept Property

  • Long grass and dry leaves can easily catch fire so make sure to keep your grass mowed and collect your leaves during the fall.


  • All highly flammable objects should not be stored in your barn. Barn vehicles, gasoline, etc. should have separate storage locations. You must also be cautious of hay bales with high-moisture content during the summer, they can reach high temperatures and become flammable as well.

Annual Fire Prevention Property Inspection:


  • Firefighters have been trained to notice potential fire hazards. So while you may be doing your best to “fire-proof” your barn, firefighters are able to provide additional suggestions.


  • With a barn comes rodents and rodents can often chew through electrical wires, creating a catalyst for barn fires. Electricians should visit your farm annually to check the condition of all wires and appliances, including water heaters.

Firefighter Education

  • Make sure that your local firefighters have been trained on how to evacuate horses during a fire. Sometimes firefighters do not have accessibility to horses so they do not know how to put on halters or handle horses. Sometimes horse owners have offered to let the local fire departments come out to their farms and use their horses in order to receive knowledge and experience.

Evacuation Drills

  • Barns should have a fire evacuation drill. The horses within certain stalls should have designated exits and paddocks. All paddocks should be located up-wind from the barn as well. It is good safety precautions to host routine fire drills to make sure staff/owners are familiar with the procedure.

Smoke Detectors

  • The batteries of smoke detectors should be regularly checked and replaced when needed. They should also be regularly dusted and de-cobwebbed. One issue with smoke detectors is that they can struggle to correctly perform in dusty, humid environments, like horse barns. Owners should be educated on other fire prevention/warning systems, such as thermal detectors, flame detectors, and sprinklers.

The Value of Education

Fire prevention education is priceless. Whether it’s a new full-time employee, boarder, or adult riding student, make sure to educate themhorse fire about fire prevention along with fire safety procedures. In case a fire ever occurred while they were there, you would have appreciated the fire education that you gave them. One of the cardinal rules that everyone must be taught is too NEVER evacuate a horse from a burning barn and simply turn him or her loose! In a horses’ mind, their stall is their safe place. So even during a fire, if you turn a horse loose, they will turn around and run directly back into the burning barn. You must remind everyone that after you evacuate a horse, you should place him or her in a safe paddock. Fire prevention and education is an absolute necessity for all horse owners because it could not only save your barn but your horses’ life as well!

Written by Anna Hellman


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