A few days ago, I drove up on a “BARN FIRE” near my home in Hudson Fl. After the fire was put out (about an hour later) I started thinking about all my friends at Southern Star Stables. Before I moved to Hudson I assisted Gail with Fire Safety talks once a year at Southern Star. I thought it would be a great time to add a BARN FIRE SAFETY page to the Southern Star Stable web site. I hope this is a learning piece for those who have never thought about Barn Safety and a refresher course for those who have been through Barn Safety classes.

Believe it or not there are people around you at the barns that think “It will never happen to me.” These people are the problem around barns, they don’t practice or are not aware of Fire Safety Rules and Regulations.

The very first thing "YOU" do if there is a fire no matter how large or small it is, is for “YOU” to call 9-1-1 to make sure help is on the way in case your attempt to extinguish the fire fails. After you make the 9-1-1 call then you can start moving horses to a safe place away from the fire. If you happen to get lucky and extinguish the fire you can recall 9-1-1 and ask to cancel the fire department. Also remember that the Pinellas Park Firefighters are not trained in moving horses, they will need your help with this.

There is an average of 243 barn fires every year in the U.S.A. The number of horses that die in these fires fluctuates anywhere from about 100 to 300 each year. The loss of “your” horse would be devastating, it is losing a member of your family.  The best way to make sure you don’t lose your horse or any of the horses at Southern Star Stables is paying attention to the barn surroundings every minute you are on the grounds.

FIRE PREVENTION is something that everyone who enters the grounds needs to practice daily.

The number one cause of fires around barns is “SMOKING”. Many farms and ranches do not allow smoking at all on their grounds, here at Southern Star Stables smoking is allowed “ONLY AT THE PICNIC TABLE.” NEVER leave the picnic table area with a lite cigarette for any reason, always extinguish your smoke before leaving the area.

The second reason for barn fires is “ELECTRICITY”, Be sure to check the fan’s, lights, coke machines, battery chargers and any electrical tools being used in or near the barns.

Repair or remove any extension cords that have bare wires showing or the ground peg missing from the plug.
Never leave extension cords plugged in when not in use. Extinction cords can over heat and start fires.
Never use nails or screws to secure wiring to wooden rafters. The rubber covering wears down and shorts out on the nails or screws causing fires.
A portable heater is a disaster waiting to happen, Clean and check all heaters before putting them to use. If you fail to check the heaters you are putting your horse’s life in jeopardy.

COB WEBS, the owner of Southern Star Stables supplies many brooms and long poles that are available for the removal of cob webs. Cob webs are extremely flammable once they catch fire they manage to pull away from the rafters and float into other stalls causing the fire to spread from stall to stall very fast.  Remove all cob webs on a regular basis.

STRAW AND HAY, these can catch fire and burn fast also, clean up all loose straw and hay from areas where it is not needed. Straw and hay can burst into flames without an outside source, it’s called spontaneous combustion. Stored hay tends to heat up when stored in large piles or areas with poor air circulation. To prevent spontaneous combustion, store your hay in a well vented room and keep bales separated so air can pass between them. Of course, “Never smoke or have a heat source near hay and straw.

Have a designated smoking area and don’t be afraid to point it out to anyone smoking in un-designated areas.
Make sure there are fully-charged fire extinguishers or garden hoses within easy reach.
Keep the barns clean, sweep up stray shavings and hay, and get rid of cobwebs.
Keep hay and shavings cool. Pay attention to the way the hay and shavings smell. A sooty odor near the haystack or hay bail may be a sign of combustion deep in the hay bales.

Pay attention to the barn's electrical system. Bring any electrical problems to Gail’s attention immediately.  
In the event of a fire or any emergency, CALL 9-1-1 FIRST, get help coming in case things get out of control.
After you call 9-1-1 then you can start evacuating horses and use extinguishers or hoses.

I hope everyone reads this and pays attention to FIRE SAFETY at Southern Star Stables. Coming around the corner and running head on into a barn fire a few days ago reminded me that all of you at Southern Star Stables need to be careful of fire around your horses, your horses depend 100% on the people around them in order to live a happy healthy life. If just one person makes a mistake one day it could cause the barns to burn and horses to die.