Designing Your Stable for Fire and Emergency Safety

Reduce the chance of fire and make your stable more accessible in an emergency

Horses in Stables
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Stables, typically wooden structures full of hay and straw, are at threat for fire. However, there are ways to make your stable more fire safe. Whether you are in the planning stages of construction or are looking for some ways to make your current structure safer, here are some things you can do to make it less likely to burn quickly, easier to access in an emergency, and safer for both horses and humans. 

  • 01 of 09


    Electrical Conduit

    Image Credit:Rapid Eye / E+  / Getty Images

    Barn wiring is subject to rodent chews, temperature fluctuations, dampness, and other wear. Wiring needs to be heavy enough to handle water heaters and other appliances without overheating. Any fixtures such as lighting, water heating or warming appliances need to be made for stable use. All outlets should be GFCIs. Any heating or drying equipment must be properly ventilated. 

  • 02 of 09

    Fire Alarms

    Smoke Carbon Monoxide Detector
    Garrett Aitken / Getty Images

    The type of fire or smoke alarm you have in your house will not be suitable for your stable. Install smoke and fire alarms that will withstand the temperature changes and dust common in stables. Some higher end smoke alarms come equipped to send an alert direct to your phone if the detector goes off, that way you can have peace of mind when you're not actually in the barn.

  • 03 of 09

    Overhead Sprinkler Systems and Fire Extinguishers

    closeup red fire extinguisher with soft-focus and over light in the background
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    Overhead sprinkler or misting systems can be expensive, and they can be tricky to maintain, especially when the water supply is not consistent, or water is subject to freezing. But, they are a very effective way of controlling fires in stables. When sensors in the system are triggered by high temperatures, the system will spray the area, quelling the flames. 

    Fire extinguishers, however, should be in every barn. They are small and relatively inexpensive. If you have a large barn, consider placing an extinguisher at each end for ease of access. Make sure the extinguisher is well-marked and easily seen. The ABC class of multipurpose extinguisher are most recommended for within a barn because of the varied materials that can burn in stables.

  • 04 of 09

    Emergency Access and Containment

    Horses stand in a pen as fire threatens the Bonita neighborhood in San Diego

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    When deciding where to put your stable on your property, consider how emergency vehicles such as tanker and pumper trucks will access the buildings in an emergency. Lanes need to be wide enough with few sharp corners for turning and the ground needs to be reasonably safe to drive on, ideally paved or gravel. Water access needs to be considered as well, as tanker trucks can quickly drain when putting out a large fire. 

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09



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    A barn with a loft may look quaint, but that loft full of hay can be a fire hazard. When hay is packed damp, it can slowly molder and heat up. If the temperature gets high enough, fire can result. With a fire burning overhead, rescuing horses and contents beneath is extremely dangerous due to the threat of ceiling collapse. Hay is safest stored in another structure well away from your horse’s stable. 

  • 06 of 09


    Fire fighters approaching blazing barn door

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    The smoke of a fire can be as deadly as the flames and heat. Good ventilation can actually slow a fire, allowing fumes and heat to escape. As your stable is designed, consider the type of roof vents that can be installed to improve airflow.  

  • 07 of 09


    A stable fire

     Louie And Deneve Bunde / Getty Images

    Caving roofs and falling walls are a danger in a fire. The heavier and more fireproof the material you build your barn from, the better. Consider metal construction over wood, and if you do use wood, use heavy uprights and beams that are less likely to burn. Before installing solar panels on your roof, consider how they might contribute to the danger during a fire, both in terms of toxic materials and weight. Ground-mounted panels may be a better choice depending on your layout and the number of panels.

  • 08 of 09

    Stall Doors

    Horse looking out exterior stall door

    Dean Kennedy / EyeEm /Getty Images

    Ideally, all stalls should open to the outdoors. All stall doors, whether they open to an inside alley, or to an outdoor paddock should be easily opened. Sticky doors can waste precious moments in an emergency. 

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Outside Doors

    Light streaming into barn from open doorway
    Hill Street Studios / Getty Images

    While this might not be such an issue with smaller barns, larger barns often have few doors that open to the outside. And, except for the main door that horses are brought through, any extra doors may be human doors, too small to easily lead a horse through. Ideally, there should be a wide door easily accessible from each stall and any areas used by humans such as tack rooms and viewing areas. Exits should be clearly marked and all pathways clear for safety.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.
Article Sources
The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Making Your Horse Barn Fire Safe. Humane Society of the United States.

  2. Protection from Barn Fires. Iowa State University Equine Extension and Outreach.

  3. Smoke Inhalation is the most Common Cause of Death in House Fires. Michigan State University Extension.

  4. Solar Panel Fires and Electrical Hazards. International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.