Fire prevention is vital for stable owners

The large amount of hay, bedding, wood and other combustible materials commonly found in and around stables means that fires are a very real risk.

There are a number of steps that horse owners and keepers can take which will help prevent a fire from occurring, or may stop it escalating into a blaze that threatens property and lives.

Be prepared

Most fires are preventable and ensuring you have a proper plan in place is the first safety step to take. The plan should include a full risk assessment, which is designed to identify and eliminate or reduce any fire risks and should include procedures that are understood by all who use the stables.

An assessment should identify what could start a fire, what combustible materials are present and who, including any animals, would be at risk should fire break out.

Installing ‘no smoking’ and ‘fire exit’ signs, and practising regular fire drills are simple steps to create a safer environment.

Also, make sure everyone understands where spare keys to padlocked gates or entrances are kept and that a telephone is close by should anyone need to raise the alarm.

Fire and stables don’t mix

Naked flames or any burning items should be kept well away from stables. This includes smoking cigarettes – make sure everyone understands that smoking is not allowed in or near the stables.

A strict no smoking policy is only common sense in such a setting.

Storing flammable materials

When hay is packed tightly, and moisture gets in, there’s a risk of spontaneous combustion.

Hay should be kept in a separate location and stored so that it stays dry. Similarly, rags and paper towels that may have been used to clean tack and hooves can spontaneously combust if soaked with oil or petroleum products and left in a pile.

They should be stored in a separate shed and not in a pile so heat can safely dissipate into the air.

Take special care with electrics

Electrical installations and appliances are commonly used in and around stables to provide lighting and heating, as well powering tools such as clippers.

Faulty or incorrectly used items pose a serious fire risk, so you should pay close attention to their use and maintenance.

Dust from hay or bedding which collects on heaters and fans can combust, so clean the interior of such appliances regularly.

Any electrical equipment should be regularly PAT (portable appliance testing) tested and not left operating whilst unattended.

It’s advisable to make weekly checks for visible signs of plugs and sockets overheating, loose wires in plugs, cracked plugs and frayed leads.

Don’t overload electrical sockets and check cables for signs of damage, such as rodent bites.

Invest in fire safety equipment

Investing in the right fire safety equipment can make all the difference if the worst should happen.

Optical smoke detectors are designed to be effective in dusty locations and can sense gasses before fire sets off heat detectors. Alarms that emit noise should be loud enough to be heard by someone, even when the stables are unoccupied at night.

Fire extinguishers should be installed next to every exit and inside every room.

If you don’t have emergency lighting fitted, consider keeping good quality torches in obvious places.

Finally, keeping a hosepipe that’s capable of reaching your buildings, permanently connected to the mains water, will give you a chance to deal with small accidental fires.

Keep things clean and tidy

Simply keeping stables as clean and free from clutter as possible can help prevent a host of health and safety risks.

Fire risks can be avoided by clearing up loose and soiled hay and bedding, as well as safely storing cleaning and grooming materials.