Designing Your Stable for Fire and Emergency Safety

Reduce the Chance of Fire and Make Your Stable More Accessible in an Emergency

In the wake of several devastating stable fires, many of us are asking how we can make our stables more fire safe.  If you have already built a stable, it may be there is little you can do to enhance its design to make it more fire safe. In the article Fire Safety in The Horse Barn I’ve outlined ways you can maintain your stable to reduce the hazard of fire.  But, if you are in the planning stages, there are ways to build a stable that is less likely to burn quickly, easier to access in an emergency and safer for both horses and humans. 

  • 01 of 09


    electrical conduit on ceiling.
    Electrical Conduit. Image Credit:Rapid Eye/E+ /Getty Images

     Barn wiring is subject to rodent chews, heat and cold, damp 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 drifting up to a smoke detector.
    Smoke detector. Image Credit:Steven Puetzer/Photographer's Choice /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. 

  • 03 of 09

    Overhead Sprinkler Systems and Fire Extinguishers

    Top of a fire extinguisher.
    Fire extinguisher. Image Credit: Dusty Pixel/E+/Getty Images

    Overhead sprinkler or misting systems can be expensive, and they can be tricky to maintain, especially when 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 should be placed at intervals within the barn. The ABC classed 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 October 23, 2007 in San Diego,. Image: Eric Thayer/Getty Images

    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, sharp corners at a minimum and the ground needs to be reasonably safe to drive on. Water access too, needs to be considered as tanker trucks can quickly drain when putting out a large fire. 

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  • 05 of 09


    Image Credit: Imagine Golf/E+/Getty Images

     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 can be risky. Hay is safest stored in another structure well away from your horse’s stable. 

  • 06 of 09


    Fire fighters approaching blazing barn door.
    Fire fighters. Image Credit:The Image Area/E+ /Getty Images

    The fumes 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 air flow.  

  • 07 of 09


    A stable fire. Image: 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 right through. 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.

  • 08 of 09

    Stall Door

    Horse looking out exterior stall door.
    Stall door opening to exterior. Image Credit: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. 

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  • 09 of 09

    Outside Doors

    Fire fighters approaching blazing barn door.
    Fire fighters. Image Credit:The Image Area/E+ /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 area. 200 ft is the most often recommended maximum distance that should be travelled from the interior of a barn to the outside.