Keep Horse Barns Safe From Fire as Cold Bears Down
A week after a faulty electrical outlet caused a barn fire that claimed the lives of two dozen horses at a Connecticut equestrian center last month, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is sharing tips for keeping barns safe from fire this winter.

Last month, 24 horses died from smoke inhalation at the Folly Farm, in Simsbury. Fire Marshall Kevin Kowalski said the fire was most probably caused by the arching of a 110-volt receptacle connected to a heater installed to prevent pipes from freezing.

“We believe that the fire was smoldering for hours and the horses could have possibly succumbed from smoke inhalation up to three hours prior to the report of the fire to the fire department,” he said.

Fire safety is a concern for every barn owner. So as much of the country battles subzero temperatures, blizzard conditions, and heavy snowfalls, the NFPA is issuing these winter fire safety reminders to barn operations.

Clean up

  • Dust and remove cobwebs around electrical outlets and receptacles for lights that have been removed.
  • Ensure light bulbs in use have covers to protect them from dust, moisture, and breakage.
  • Inspect wiring to be sure it’s undamaged. Replace worn or damaged wire.

Check equipment

  • Be sure that all electrical equipment used in the barn is labeled for agriculture or outdoor use.
  • Refrain from using electrical extension cords in the barn.
  • If possible, avoid using space heaters, or salamanders. If they must be used, ensure they are situated on a level surface to prevent them from falling over and place them a safe distance from anything combustible.

Store supplies safely

  • Store hay, feed, and all potentially flammable liquids away from the main barn when not being fed or in use.

Be prepared

  • Post signs indicating that the barn is a smoke-free zone
  • Place fire extinguishers where they’re easily visible and accessible, and train farm employees to use them.
  • Carry out hazard checks on a regular basis and correct issues that arise promptly.

Also, be sure to use water bucket and trough heaters properly. Learn how to keep your buckets and troughs safe in Heated Water Trough Safety.