Monday, February 18, 2013

Fire Safety in your Chicken Coop & Barn

By Justine of Les Farms

Now I know everyone thinks that it won't happen to you. I was like that as well. Yeah fires happen, but not to me. 

My ignorance was quickly shattered last week when on Monday, February 11th, 2013, when we awoke to our barn in full flames. Nothing at all could be done. 

We lost everything: Two sheep, Four turkeys, Six Ducks, Four Geese, Roughly 100 breeding chickens, 20 chicks and our Livestock Guardian Dog, Clementine. 

The purpose of my writing this is not to get your condolences, though I really appreciate it. I am heartbroken, yes. They were my passion. My dream. 

This article is designed to make you think twice about what you do in your own barn/coop, and to open your eyes to the risks in things you may not even consider a fire risk.

The obvious - make sure if you have chicks in the barn/coop that you have your heat lamp SECURED. Do not trust the clamps. They can slip off easily and the heat lamp can fall to the ground and catch the shavings on fire.

Extension Cords - Please, please do not use these if you can help it. If you do have to use them, Make sure you are not drawing a lot of power from them (IE: Don't attach an extension cord to a power block and plug a lot into them). 

DUST your lights and outlets regularly. Dust is a big issue.. You know how much dust a couple of chickens can create.. If dust builds up on heat lamps, or even regular light bulbs the dust itself can catch on fire.

If you use extension cords, use heavy duty, and only ones meant for outdoors. Make sure they are all intact and have no rips or tears in the coating.

Another extension cord tip: Do not staple them into the wall to keep out of reach of birds. If you hit the cord itself it can create an issue.

Store baled hay AWAY from livestockHay/bedding storage should not be near lights, fans, electrical boxes, heaters or outlets.

Flammable substances should be kept away from the barn. (We had 5 propane tanks stored in the loft. BAD idea.

Improperly utilized heat lamps are a major source of barn fires. They are often placed too close to hay and bedding which may ignite quite easily from the heat. Never use extension cords with heat lamps. 

When storing newly baled hay, the temperature should be monitored. Adequate ventilation should be provided for additional drying of the hay. If too much heat builds up, spontaneous combustion can occur. (Never purchase hay that is hot -  because it can mean that it was baled too wet. In addition to being a fire hazard, the hay may turn moldy, making it unpalatable and unhealthy for horses to eat.)

Outlets and switch boxes should be made of metal and have dust- and water-tight spring-loaded covers that close when released. Ground fault receptacles should be utilized for all outlets.



Fire can be prevented. Please be aware, and pass the message along.

If I can save any of you from the anguish I feel - I have served my purpose.

~ Justine  


  1. Thank you for sharing your hard-won wisdom with us.
    My heart goes out to you and your family.

  2. I hear about fires in barns all the time. I have never personally known any of them. It has never been personal. This has been an awakening. I personally felt this one even though it happened thousands of miles away. It is like a rock in my belly reading about it again. I have re checked every thing in my coops and I hope I never become lax again. I had dust on every thing. I zip tie my heat lamps if I use them outdoors now, and I remove them as soon as possible. Thank you for sharing this important and difficult experience with all of us.


  3. I know this barn. Well, I know the snow picture, I've seen it before. I thought it absolutely beautiful and it stuck with me. I've not been on this site or on the forums for a while so I'm just learning of this.

    I'm so very, very sorry and can't imagine the horror of having this happen. Thank you for posting this here in the hope that it will prevent it from occurring to someone else. I know it couldn't have been easy even writing about it.

    Wishing you all the best during this trying time.


  4. I am so sorry to hear is horrible to lose anything to a fire, but to loss that many animals at one time is horrendous! I lost dogs and a cat to a house fire and I felt like my children were taken from me, so I cannot begin to imagine the loss of so many!

  5. Thanks for the article. My husband and I were just talking about this last night - particularly the dust and uncovered outlet issue.

    We definitely need to change some things out there.

  6. So considerate to write this post at such a sad time. I am so sorry for all you have lost.

    Huge hugs to you xxxxxx

  7. Thank you for sharing this story. I will take heed. I am on my way out to dust my coop lights off and move some hay.
    I am getting new chicks this weekend and one will be named Clementine.
    I am so sorry for your lose.

  8. nicely written Justine. I hope you and your partner are doing well.

  9. heartbreaking all over again. thank you for the emotional courage to bring attention to the threat of fire, and to provoke everyone to take a second look at their own arrangements.

  10. Oh my goodness Justine! I am so very sorry for your terrible losses...thank you for having the heart to warn the rest of us. Best wishes and huge hugs!

  11. This was my first time on this site, I am in tears as I am reading of your heartbreak. I can't tell you how very sorry I am and can't thank you enough for warning us all!! You shall be in my prayers!

  12. Thank you for sharing your story. It is truly a heartbreaking one. We have a small hobby farm of chickens, a sheep and a horse, and I know what you mean when you say they were your life. I never thought I would fall in love with a chicken, but after having our flock and getting to know each ones is quite easy to do. We will certainly be looking for a safer way of heating the barn. My heart goes out to you. Take care.

  13. My heart breaks for you, but THANK YOU for sharing this information. We use heavy extension cords, but I am worried about it. We are going to run a line into the coop so that I can rest easy. The girls and boys could get into the run, but it is also made of wood, so the results would be devastating!

  14. My heart goes out to you for the loss of all your beautiful animals. Don't know if this can help you at all, but it helped me. I just lost my precious, adorable Serama frizzle, Queenie. She was very tame. I have asked her little soul to come back to me again and I'm counting on it.


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