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Riding Safely



News of fires and details of preventative measures to minimise the risk of fire...

“Speed of rescue is of major importance, but more important is preventing the fire”


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Horse Stall on Fire...

Protecting a horse stall is not the same as fire protection in a home. The horse is standing in dry bedding material that is very flammable. Straw reaches a burning temperature of 300oF in one to five minutes. It is a material that develops as much heat at the same rate as gasoline. All that is required to start this fire is a spark or match. It takes two to three minutes for a straw fire to burn an area 10 feet in diameter. Compare this to the size of a common horse box stall that is 10 to 12 feet square. After a fire starts in a stall and spreads to only 4 feet in diameter, most horses are injured. By 6 foot diameter the lungs are seared. With an 8 foot diameter circle of fire the horse will start to suffocate. By 10 feet in diameter, the horse is dead. All of this occurs in two to three minutes. If the horse is to survive unharmed, he must be removed from the stall within 30 seconds. So speed of rescue is of major importance, but more important is preventing the fire.

Extract from:  Fire Safety in Horse Stables – Pennsylvania State University

Coming soon...

13/01/13 - USA - Kansas - Attica: Barn destroyed, horses safe 

A wood framed barn containing two horses was destroyed by fire - the cause of which has been blamed on an electrical fault. The horses escaped unhurt but farm machinery was destroyed. The fire was reported at 3.14 p.m. and took two hours to bring under control. Damage is estimated at $200K.

Source: The Buffalo News


12/03/11- Udhagamandalam - India:  Fire at Ooty race course, horses safe

A fire that broke out in a shed filled with hay adjacent to the stables at Ooty race course is thought to have been started by a cigarette. 
"Although the shed was damaged, it is fortunate that none of the horses were injured", said fire station officer T Purushotaman.

Source: The Times of India


23/03/10 - Hampshire - UK: One horse dies and another suffers severe burns in stable fire
A horse rug was melted onto the back of a surviving Welsh cob by the heat of a stable fire, while his companion was killed.

Source: Horse and Hound


20/07/09 – UK: Arson attack on donkeys

A donkey escaped being burned to death in a suspected arson attack at stables in Scarborough.

Source: Scarborough Evening News


11/07 - Eastern Pennsylvania – USA:  4 horses injured in barn fire

Four horses have been injured, one critically, as three barns burned at Pink Star Equestrian Center, Eastern Pennsylvania. Most of the farm's 30 horses were in pastures and stayed away from the flames.

Fire broke out around 11 p.m. Thursday 9 July at the farm near Limekiln in Oley Township, about 45 miles northwest of Philadelphia. It took more than 120 firefighters from 30 fire companies in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties to get the fire under control.  

Officials are investigating the cause of the blaze, which leveled two barns, left a third partly standing and is estimated to have caused damage in the region of $700,000 to $1 million.

Source: PA/Reading Eagle

13/07/09 – Update

It’s reported that the four horses injured in the fire are expected to recover.  However, two of the horses suffered severe burns to their backs and damage to their lungs. One of the two also suffered burns to its head and side.  The owner said that neither horse will ever will be ridden again and one may lose its vision.

Source:  Reading Eagle


Fire risk assessment - animal premises/stables

Related Information

Fire Safety Tips from leading equestrian fire safety expert Harry Paviour

Winter Fire Safety tips for the Stables

With the long dark and cold winter nights there will always be the temptation to introduce portable and temporary heating appliances to the inside of buildings that do not normally have heating arrangements.

The only safe type of heaters are those that are fixed at high level, are provided with suitable guards to the heating elements and do not create heat by way of live flame, or incandescent electrical coils. Ideally, heaters that produce a 'Black' heat should only be used. The practice of using summer LPG gas fired patio heaters should not be considered.

On inclement weather days when the farrier arrives to carry out hot shoeing, he should not be permitted to work inside buildings unless he has a clear and clean working space free from all combustibles and on a concrete floor.

The temptation to reduce the amount of combustible rubbish by burning should be resisted. However, if absolutely necessary, restrict any burning to daylight hours, and then only well away and downwind of any buildings, barns or outside combustible storage.  Extinguish the fire completely as darkness falls.

Dark winter months are also attractive times for the arsonist to strike.  Carry out or review your arson risk assessment and secure or remove all readily accessible combustibles - solids, liquids and gases. Make sure that you secure all buildings and vehicles at night.

Stay safe for the winter months.

Harry Paviour


Riding Safely adds – before burning any waste check with your local Environmental Health Officer that you're allowed to do so.  Also make sure that your fire risk assessment assesses and controls the additional risks created by your winter heating requirements.  Particularly vulnerable areas include tack rooms where heaters are often introduced and used during the winter months.

Harry Paviour

Harry Paviour is Fire Advisor to the British Horse Society and the Association of British Riding Schools.  He is the author of the British Horse Society’s book “Guidelines for Fire Safety in Equine and Agricultural Premises” and has been the driving force behind the Government’s publication “Fire Safety Risk Assessment - Animal Premises and Stables”.  With a distinguished fire service career that began in 1962, and progressing through various roles, including that of Divisional Commander, he has recently retired from the Fire Service College.  Harry now acts a consultant to the equine industry and adds “if horse owners or proprietors would like further help of information they are welcome to contact me”.  Harry can be contacted at harry.paviour@btinternet.com

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