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The Perth East Fire Department in Ontario shares tips for how to prevent barn fires.

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Introducing horses to a firefighter in full gear, ahead of an emergency, is a good idea. Barbara Sheridan photo

After experiencing a rash of barn fires this summer, the Perth East Fire Department in Ontario contacted us with a safety warning for horse owners. The following is a list of fire prevention tips:

  • Do not allow smoking in or around barns or near any flammable farm materials.
  • Situate manure piles at least 10 metres away from barns to reduce the chance of combustion.
  • Ensure hay and straw are properly dried before storing it in the barn and monitor its temperature.
  • Keep dust and cobwebs to a minimum.
  • Regularly check all appliances, wiring, electrical equipment and heat-producing materials and equipment to ensure everything is in safe, working order.
  • Repair/replace any frayed or damaged wiring as soon as it is identified.
  • Extension cords should only be used temporarily and should be removed after use. Eliminate the need with professionally installed outlets.
  • Have regular TSSA/ESA inspections conducted.
  • Never refuel engines inside a building or while the engine is running or hot.
  • Park equipment/vehicles indoors only after they have cooled down.
  • Ensure all buildings and vehicles have fire extinguishers and that everyone who frequents your property knows how to use them.
  • Question and/or remove unknown, unlicensed and unauthorized persons from the premises.
  • Develop and practice an evacuation plan (this includes human and livestock evacuation).
  • Hang halters and leads on stall doors, should evacuation be required.

Additional measures include the installation of:

  • lightning rods
  • sprinkler system
  • hose cabinets
  • on-site water storage
  • video surveillance
  • monitored fire alarm system
  • a separate building for hay and straw storage

Don’t be afraid to contact your local fire department for help and advice. Most have fire prevention and/or public education personnel that can work with you to address your questions. Many will do so for a reasonable fee or at no charge at all.