Fire Safety Precautions

Probably the worst case scenario of all operators and horse owners: A fire in the home stable. A short circuit, freshly brought in hay or the forgotten kettle from the mash preparation - it's the little things that increase the risk enormously.

- Prevention is the most important Thing

Quickly putting the hay in front of the boxes for breakfast the evening before? What on one hand saves time, on the other hand offers a fire a spread path along the entire stable aisle. The fear of a fire in the barn is probably the greatest, and ultimately it is also the greatest risk for humans and animals. Farms in particular are at risk due to their fire load. Fires often go hand in hand with high amounts of damage, if not even the existence of a company is endangered as a whole. In principle, every company should be adequately insured against fire and fire damage. The fire load is particularly high due to the stored animal feed and bedding. Fire load refers to the heat generated when certain materials are burned. This in turn represents the basis for any fire protection measures and should be the starting point for precautions.

- Keep it Clean and Tidy

Regular sweeping, and tidying up the storage of feed and bedding can slow down the spread of a fire. This also means that the hay for morning feeding is not placed in front of the boxes in the evening before. In the event of a fire, a veritable fire route is created and the fire can spread faster along the entire stable aisle. The same applies to straw or sawdust. Sweeping several times a day not only increases the positive effect on visitors and advertisers, but also makes a lasting contribution to safety.

- Flamable Materials

Oils, fuels, batteries, lubricants, paints and varnishes should always be stored in suitable fireproof cabinets. In the best case, also away from immediate sources of ignition and machines.

- Machines, small Appliances and Lamps

Vehicles and machinery with internal combustion engines should be parked away from hay and straw and be regularly serviced. Blacksmith work or other work that generates sparks should only be done in appropriate areas. Electrical systems must be maintained and installed by professionals. Coffee machines or kettles in particular also pose a high risk if, for example, they are filled too full and boil over as a result. The check of all electrical devices and cables must theoretically be carried out every two years - this also includes small devices.

- Storage

Freshly stored hay in particular poses an enormous risk of fire. It has very poor thermal conductivity. This can quickly lead to such high temperatures that the hay ignites itself. Air circulation between the bales is crucial. There should be about three centimeters of space between the individual bale stacks. It is also advisable not to store hay and straw directly on the ground, so that air circulation is guaranteed from below as well. The temperature and humidity of freshly stored hay should be measured at regular intervals. The fire brigade recommends daily measurements for the first two weeks, every second day in the third week, twice a week from week four to five and once a week from week six after storage. Square bales are more at risk than round bales because of the higher baling pressure and should be examined more critically. If the bales reach a temperature between 45 and 60 degrees, they should be checked every six hours, from 60 degrees the fire brigade should be notified immediately, from 70 degrees there is an acute risk of fire.

- Fire Water
In the case of fighting a fire, approx. 4000-5000 liters of water per minute must are needed. Of course, this amount has to be available: Relying only on natural water sources can be fatal, especially in midsummer or after long periods of drought. The fire brigade can check the extinguishing water reservoir or weigh up how much water is needed in the event of a fire in order to be able to provide the appropriate extinguishing power.

- Prevention

One of the most important measures is that the local fire brigade is involved. Access routes in particular should be discussed and clarified so that no time is lost in an emergency. From a distance of 50 meters to the public traffic area, a fire brigade access is even required. This should be 3 m wide and 3.5 m high so that larger rescue vehicles can also access the facility. Although fire brigades are organized voluntarily in most rural areas, they prefer being involved in fire protection. This includes on-site inspections, securing fire-fighting water and even conducting exercises. For this purpose, the operator should be able to name the approximate number of animals and persons present at day and night. There are also access routes to staff apartments, which are often connected directly to or above the barn and are not visible from the outside. It is also important to survey evacuation areas so that everyone involved knows where panicking horses can be taken.

- Access to the Stable
In the event of an emergency, the local Emergency Services need to know how to gain access to the farm and the stables. A key should therefore always be deposited with the fire brigade or at least it should be ensured that the farm or stable can be reached without the operator.

- Practice and Drills for the Case of an Emergency

A fire is always an extremely stressful and exceptional situation. However, to ensure that everything works smoothly in an emergency, this should also be practiced regularly. Above all, the fact that many boarding stables have a high fluctuation in terms of hirers means that regular practice pays off.