Irvin Lichtenstein sent a Letter to the Editor of The Horse that was published in the June, 2012 issue, regarding an article, “Healthful Barns.” Mr. Lichtenstein signed the letter as Chief of Operations, Southeast Pennsylvania Search and Rescue, however, his experience over more than 40 years in the fire service is tremendous, so I’m delighted that he’s given his permission for me to reprint his letter, as follows, because his expert knowledge is so important to share:
“The article on page 50 of the May 2012 issue, “Healthful Barns,” leaves out the most important safety factors for horses in barns. In much of the country barns are not subject to building codes or inspection. This means that there is no guarantee that the structure will withstand high winds, snow loads, impacts, floods, or fire.
Barns are often huge lumber yards storing highly flammable bedding, feeds, and dusts. The lack of fixed fire detection and suppression systems frequently leads to disasters. When building a large barn, the added cost of thses systems is usually under $4 per square foot for both detectors and sprinklers. If you have an arena dust spray system, you already have the water supply for fire sprinklers. Also, when building a barn, build it to human occupancy standards; if there is no local code you can specify NFPA 150 or a similar best practice. And maintain the systems and good practices. Don’t put anything in a barn that doesn’t belong there.
Practice your response to an emergency until it becomes automatic, not panic.”