Bobby Arledge, Polk County Emergency Management Director and the Emergency Management Director for the World Equestrian Games, Tryon, 2018, spoke at the FRC May Educational Seminar at FENCE. Bobby highlighted actions that horse owners could take to minimize the risk of fire on their property and ways they could assist first responders, should an emergency occur. 1. Have a no-smoking policy and post notices about the no-smoking policy prominently around your buildings and property. 2. Have and install smoke alarms – fire alarms – smoke detectors – whichever device you feel will detect smoke or a fire effectively. Ensure these can be heard wherever you are – house, workshop, stable. There are many “smart” devices, which will notify you of any issues directly to your phone or computer. Additionally, a local security company can also provide you with a smoke/fire alarm system that is versatile and reliable. Ensure the smoke alarms are clean of dust! 3. Keep aisles and main areas clean of loose hay and stray shavings. A clean stable is a safer stable. This includes cobwebs – which are highly flammable and can spread flames quickly and far! Make sure exits and aisles are clear and can be navigated by emergency personnel. Ensure your electrical panel has 3’ of clearance around it so it can be located and accessed by emergency personnel in full fire gear. 4. Keep a 50-foot firebreak around the structures on your property – this includes any leaves or mulch that are blown/accumulate around the structures. Decorative shrubs should be okay if they’re healthy (not dry) ad not too overgrown. 5. Store the following in a separate building which is at least 50 ft. from your stable and home: gas powered equipment, gas cans, flammable liquids, hay, bedding/shavings. 6. Extension cords must be UL approved, of high quality and of amperage at least, if not more than, the device that will be plugged into it. Ensure the plug is grounded and that the cord is not damaged or able to be damaged. Use extension cords ONLY as a temporary connection – they are not “wiring.” Check them for damage often – monthly if possible. Keep these cords away from animals and unplug them after each use. 7. The number one cause of fires is electrical faults. Ensure that your electrical wiring is protected in conduit and all work is done by a licensed electrician “to code.” Using covered, waterproof outlet covers can be an easy, cost effective step to reducing electrical faults. Unplug any appliance when not in use. 8. Fans: Vacuum or clean your fans as often as you change your clocks. Do not use box fans – ever – highly dangerous. If buying fans, look for a fan rated for outdoor or potentially “weather exposed” use and for a sealed fan motor. 9. Space Heaters: only use UL approved space heaters, which have a 3-prong (grounded) plug and “tip over” protection fail/safe. Never use a heater with an exposed element. Always unplug or turn off the heater when you are not around it and able to monitor its operation. Do not plug space heaters into extension cords. Heat Lamps are equally discouraged – but can be used under supervision and for short-term only. 10. Minimize dust and sparks by using child –proof outlet covers on seldom used electrical outlets. This also protects the outlet from weather or moisture. 11. Lightning Rods are recommended for all structures on the property and can minimize risk from lightning strikes tremendously. 12. Fire Extinguishers: structures such as livestock facilities should have a 10lb fire extinguisher ever 50’. If you are unsure how to use your fire extinguisher, Polk County (NC) and many other counties offer fire extinguisher training courses. There are many local companies who will inspect and recharge your fire extinguisher on a schedule – or you can take it to them. Those companies are: Pye-Barker (Hendersonville), Asheville Fire Protection, Tyco-SimplexGrinnell (Asheville), Simplex Grinnell (Spartanburg). Fire extinguishers should be examined for hose condition, nozzles in good shape/clear and the fire extinguisher are still fully charged. Disposable (non-rechargeable) fire extinguishers lose efficacy ~5 years, rechargeable will last approx. 10 years. 13. When there’s fire: call 911 immediately, if you attempt to put out the fire yourself, with two fire extinguishers and it is still not out, let the fire department handle it. Put your own safety above the safety of animals. Do not risk your life and be prepared to act in an emergency. Have a leather halter and a cotton lead rope by each stall. Have a plan for an emergency and PRACTICE it. Practice evacuations. 14. Make sure the property and driveway are clearly marked. If you have a gate – you can use 1018 as the universal emergency services gate code (proposed for NC). However, if those gates are locked or do not open, the emergency personnel will ram the gate open to get into the property – or will use bolt cutters to cut the lock. They will not waste time trying other codes or trying to get someone to unlock the gate. If there are two separate routes to the barn and the house, mark with direction is for the house and the stable. Have a mailbox or other fireproof receptacle outside the structure that has emergency contact and animal information easily spotted and opened.
Emergency Plan for Horse owners: this is a canary yellow document to be posted and clearly visible which outlines what you want done or what you will allow in an emergency situation. This should be completed for each animal (including household pets) on the property.