Preventing Barn Fires

A barn is arguably one of the most likely places for a fire to start.The environment in barns is almost unique certainly different from homes, offices, public buildings, even manufacturing facilities. Barns are inherently dusty, even with the best housekeeping. The wiring and electrical equipment can be corroded by the barn environment ammonia from animal waste, for example. Rodents can chew on the wiring, because that is what rodents do to trim their teeth. Spontaneous combustion can occur if stored hay is too wet or if manure pits are not cleaned.

But some basic cost-effective steps can be taken to prevent most barn fires:

  • Have regular inspections done by a licensed electrician
  • Fix the identified problems
  • Hire a licensed electrician for all electrical work (even though it is tempting to do it yourself)
  • Use extension cords only temporarily
  • Put cover plates on electrical boxes
  • Put explosion cages on light bulbs or install LED lights
  • Purchase good quality heat lamps and have them installed as permanent equipment
  • Consider running electrical wires through conduits
  • Have a dedicated smoking area well away from the barn
  • Have fire extinguishers in good working order at all barn entrances (plus a few extras)
  • Test the backup generator regularly this may be required to validate your insurance
  • Leave recently used equipment outside until it has cooled
  • Store fuel and other chemicals out of the barn
  • Test hay temperature for spontaneous combustion
  • Clean manure pits regularly
  • Clean cobwebs, dust, walk around the barn and look for things that could start a fire
  • Install a temperature detector system with a telephone alert
  • Ask your local fire department to do an onsite inspection