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. There can be many causes of barn fires.

A fire requires three elements - oxygen, fuel and heat. Eliminate one and there is no fire. Obviously oxygen is not a candidate. Some fuels can be removed, but not all (e.g. straw, wood construction.) But sources of heat (ignition) can be eliminated. Following are some basic cost-effective steps:

  • Have regular inspections done by a licensed electrician and fix the problems
  • Hire a licensed electrician for all electrical work
  • Consult with your insurance advisor regarding measures that can be taken to avoid a fire and possibly reduce your premium
  • Install a temperature detector system with a telephone alert
  • Use extension cords only temporarily
  • Put cover plates on electrical boxes and explosion cages on light bulbs
  • Consider running electrical wires through conduits to prevent rodent damage
  • Purchase good quality heat lamps and have them installed as permanent equipment
  • 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)
  • Clean cobwebs and dust from electrical equipment
  • Leave recently used equipment outside until it has cooled
  • If hay is stored in the barn, test the temperature for spontaneous combustion
  • Clean manure pits regularly
  • Look for sources of ignition
  • Ask your local fire department to do an onsite inspection
  • Have an emergency checklist posted inside barn entrances
  • Have an "end of day" checklist posted inside barn entrances