Info from Fire Safety Expert Irvin Lichtenstein

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.”

 

 

Non-Metallic Conduit

For those folks who are planning a new barn or upgrading electrical components in your existing barn: Steve Corcoran checked the current National Electrical Code and reports that discussion with the electrical engineering department at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) indicated that any outbuilding where livestock MAY be held, fed or treated, classifies that building as an agricultural building and the highly corrosive environment created by the combination of moisture and livestock manure creates the presence of a possible electrical shock/fire safety hazard, so non-metallic conduit is required.

 

Please consult your local fire safety inspector to make sure you’re in compliance before you begin construction or refitting.

Fire Safety Tip – Using Baking Soda

Michelle Staples, author of “Save Your Horse! A Horse Owner’s Guide to Large Animal Rescue” (www.saveyourhorse.com) sent this information from a student in one of the classes she teaches:

“At two of the larger barns I know, they did a safety audit as they used to mix baking soda with sand and keep it in 5 gallon pails throughout the building. The understanding was that baking soda also smothers a fire like sand but it is a lot lighter in weight and if a younger person or small adult discovers a fire, they can handle the weight of the baking soda/sand bucket.  One hundred percent baking soda works well, too, but should be covered to protect it from moisture. Sand keeps the baking soda stable, but the bucket should also be covered.”