November: Time to Guard Against Barn and Stable Fires as Thanksgiving Approaches

Fireman walking past a burning horse barn.
Fireman walking past a burning horse barn. Ancho

Newsdate: November 20, 2019, 7:00 am
Location: MORGAN HILL, California

As Thanksgiving approaches and winter weather arrives, horse owners have much to be thankful for. Whether you live on a big horse ranch with acres of pastures and multiple barns or are the owner of a single horse with a small barn and paddock, cold weather increases the danger of horse barn and stable fires because of the use of heaters, defective electrical wiring and appliances, and storage of hay and bedding material.

Observers watching a burning horse barn.

Observers watching a burning horse barn

Thanksgiving time serves as a reminder to think about our barns and stables as the 'Homes of our horses' and practice important fire prevention tips.
© 2017 by Rob Swystun New window.

The Equine List Management Group in Lexington, Kentucky has put together a Barn Fire Safety Checklist that cites the occurrence of many barn and stable fires and lists the most common causes of fires that take the lives of horses and destroy valuable property.

As you read down the following list, recognize the number of common causes for a barn and stable fire, most of which you can eliminate or reduce the risk if you had been warned in advance. We must remember, the barn and stable are not a house where we take so many things for granted when it comes to fire prevention.

This is the time to think about the barn and stable as a “home”, and practice those tips for our horses like we do for our human family.

Note: These common causes of fires are not ranked in order of importance.

The Most Common Causes of Barn and Stable Fires

  • Spontaneous composition of improperly cured hay and forage type bedding
  • Lightning strikes to buildings
  • Careless smoking in barns and stables
  • Overheating of plumbing related heater devices to prevent frozen pipes
  • Overheating of electric supplemental portable heater appliances during winter
  • Faulty electrical wiring and circuit boxes
  • Defective electrical appliances [i.e. coffee pots, microwave ovens, toasters, etc]
  • Overheating of electrical or gas hot water heating elements
  • Defective electric fence chargers
  • Defective and/or excessively dusty electric fan motors
  • Sparks from machinery operating in areas close to barns and stables.
  • Sparks from a forge being operated in and near barns and stables.
  • Overheating of portable lighting and heat lamps
  • Careless burning of waste materials and rubbish
  • Overloaded, improper use of extension cords
  • Presence of accelerants [i.e. aerosols, gas, kerosene, diesel, propane, etc]
  • Arson

November is a good time to check out your horse facility whether large or small. Perhaps it should become an annual safety checkup time before sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner to make sure that on the coldest nights, your horses are safe from the threat of an unexpected barn or stable fire.

About the Author

Flossie Sellers

Author picture

As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.

She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.

Staying  up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..