Having a barn fire is fairly high on the list of every equestrian’s worst fear. However, there are steps you can take to prevent and be prepared for just such a disaster.
Waiting until the wildfire approaches dangerously close is no time to draw up a disaster preparedness plan. Learning the hazards of storing hay is too late after the barn is reduced to ashes and all is lost. It is not a scenario that one fathoms will never happen to them, until it does. However, there are resources to help barn managers and owners prepare for the unexpected hazards than can happen.
Equine Guelph’s October healthcare tool of the month is the free, interactive Barn Fire Prevention tool. The tool walks you through a set of 20 questions regarding the inside of your barn six questions about the outside of your barn. The questions are designed to help you develop your barn fire prevention checklist and, depending on your answers, provide helpful information about each topic. Once you’ve finished answering the questions, the tool creates a printable checklist for you to use to develop your fire preparedness and prevention plan.
In addition to the Barn Fire Prevention tool, Equine Guelph is offering a one-week long course on Fire & Emergency Preparedness, set to begin October 5, 2020. The course will be taught by Susan Raymond, who has been involved in the development and delivery, both online and in-person, of educational and skills training programs that focus on improving the welfare and safety of both animals and people on the farm during day to day activities and emergency situations.
Also participating in the course is returning expert guest speaker Rebecca Gimenez-Husted, who will be available all week to provide insight and answer all your burning questions. Gimenez has travelled the world providing training in Technical Large Animal Rescue Techniques and has published numerous critiques, techniques and journal articles on the topic. Rebecca edited the only textbook available to the fire service and veterinarians on technical rescue of large animals.
As a volunteer firefighter in Gray, GA, Rebecca is doing research and development work with University of Edinburgh (UK), EKU (KY) and several veterinary schools. A past Logistics Officer for FEMA’s Veterinary Medical Assistance Team (VMAT -2), decorated combat veteran and a Major in the US Army Reserves (retired), Rebecca offers a wealth of information and is active in various organizations related to disaster preparedness.
Among the many topics addressed in the Fire & Emergency Preparedness course, Gimenez answers questions about whether or not horses really will run back into a burning building:
Another guest speaker, fire fighter Riley McGilloway of Halton Hills Fire Department, describes how even the smallest details like location of feed tubs and buckets can improve your barns fire safety:
The Fire & Emergency Preparedness course has a strong focus on prevention but also contains an abundance of information that can ensures if the unthinkable happens you are in a position to do everything to improve the odds of a successful outcome.
“This course was eye-opening and very informative. I learned about the realities of barn fire detection and response, and the importance of doing due diligence in planning and prevention. The best way to deal with a barn fire is to prevent it from occurring in the first place, and this course provides a wealth of information that will help you to accomplish the goal of a fire-safe facility. Every horse owner can do something to make their horse’s space safer. Every horse owner/enthusiast can benefit from the information in this course.”
– Cathy Vogelweid, DVM (Columbia, Missouri, USA)