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 livestock. Hay/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.