What Every Horse Barn Owner Needs To Know About Hay And Fire And Life Safety Systems

In south Florida, 12 horses were killed in a barn fire. If you own a horse barn, it's important for you to protect your investment and your equine friends from deadly barn fires. Here's what you need to know. 

Keep hay out! 

As a horse barn owner, you likely already know the importance of fire prevention, such as not allowing anyone to smoke in and around the barn; however, did you know that hay is highly combustible? The moisture content in hay causes sugars in the plant to convert to water and carbon dioxide. Any active bacteria and mold contained within the hay can produce heat, which starts a chain reaction that can cause temperatures in the hay to exceed 170 to 190°F at which point the hay can ignite. Therefore, do not keep hay in your horse barn! Store hay in a separate building away from your horse barn. 

Get connected! 

A fire and life safety system can help to reduce the risk of a fire engulfing your entire barn and save your horses' lives. This type of system encompasses many features that are designed to work together for the best in fire suppression and life rescue. 

  • Detectors. Smoke, heat, and flame detectors should definitely be installed in your barn. However, it's crucial to understand that ordinary detectors are not strong enough to sense danger in horse barns, especially smoke detectors in the dusty air of a barn. Fortunately, there are smoke, heat, and flame detectors that are designed specially for horse barns and other types of agricultural barns. These devices should be connected to a sprinkler system and a fire alarm monitoring system. That way, you and the authorities will be alerted as quickly as possible if a fire occurs in your horse barn. 
  • Sprinkler system. A sprinkler system can suppress a barn fire to give the fire fighters enough time to arrive and set up their equipment. It's important to understand that sprinklers will likely not extinguish a fire completely in a horse barn, especially if any hay and other flammable and combustible materials are in the barn. It's important to have enough water pressure, and water, for the sprinkler system to work when it's activated by the detectors. If there isn't enough water pressure, consider installing a water tower, digging a well, or installing a holding tank with a forceful water pump. 
  • Automatic stall door openers. Install opening systems on each stall door so they will automatically open when the fire and life safety systems are activated. Even though you typically may not want your horses to roam freely, giving them the ability to escape a fire on their own can give them a better chance of survival. Train your horses so they know what to do when the alarms go off. Teach them to leave their stalls, trot down the aisle, and go to a safe location away from the barn where you'll be able to find them. 
  • Fire alarm monitoring service. The fire and life safety system should be connected to a fire alarm monitoring service, which operates and monitors alarms around the clock. The service can alert you immediately after the nearest fire department(s) are alerted. 

Last, but not least—it's a good idea to speak with your local fire department officials who would respond to any fire calls beforehand so you can inform them of the systems you incorporate in your barn, particularly the automatic stall door openers. The reason for this is so they can check to see if your horses are at the safe location before they risk their own lives inside the barn while it's on fire. For more information on fire alarm systems, contact a company like Fyr Fyter Inc.