Fire safety in stables

Introduction

Stable fires occur frequently and can cause severe injury or death to both horse and people.

The following guidelines outline simple steps which should be taken to reduce the risk of fire in existing stables and in the construction of new stables.

Stable construction

  • It is advisable to build stables from materials that do not easily burn.
  • Ideal construction materials include steel frames and masonry walls.
  • The use of timber (especially softwoods) should be kept to a minimum, particularly for the interior construction.
  • Cement floors with appropriate bedding are advisable so that stables can be kept clean.
  • The use of electric safety switches should be considered.

Fire exits

  • Stable doors must be wide enough to allow horses to be easily removed in the case of fire.
  • Individual stable doors should be at least 1.3 metres wide.
  • Aisle exits should be at least 2 metres wide.
  • In large stable complexes sliding doors in good working order are preferable to swinging doors (as swinging doors may block aisles).
  • Swing doors should swing through 180° and latch open securely.
  • Central aisles should be at least 2 metres wide.
  • In a stable complex alternative exits should be provided.
  • Large stable complexes should be provided with enough exits to allow all horses to be removed quickly.

Fire fighting equipment

  • Fire hoses should be provided and always kept in working order.
  • The number and type of fire hoses necessary will vary depending on the establishment.
  • Fire hoses should be located outside the stable building.
  • Fire hoses should reach and deliver water to all stables.
  • Large stable complexes should be provided with wide bore high-pressure hoses stored on fire hose reels.
  • The water supply should be adequate for the fire hoses installed.
  • Staff should be given the opportunity to practice using fire hoses and should be familiar with other fire fighting equipment such as extinguishers.

Safe storage of feed and bedding

  • Straw, hay and other feeds burn easily and should be stored away from stables.
  • Storage of these materials in a loft in the stable is unsafe as it creates a significant fire hazard.

Tack rooms

  • Tack rooms in or near stable complexes are a common source of stable fires due to the location of heaters and cooking facilities in these rooms.
  • Where possible, tack rooms should be situated away from the stable complex.
  • Tack rooms should be equipped with the following fire extinguishers:
    • a 3.4 kg carbon dioxide extinguisher provided near the cooking area;
    • a water-type extinguisher placed outside the tack room door.
  • Tack rooms should be built with a fire rating of 1 hour.

Smoke detectors

Smoke detectors give early warning of fire.

When tack rooms and feed storage areas are near stables they should be equipped with smoke detectors that are connected to an adequate alarm system.

Ventilation

  • Ventilation should be adequate to reduce smoke inhalation.
  • The methods for providing ventilation need to be consistent with security requirements.

Personnel

  • Cigarettes are a common source of fires.
  • Smoking should be avoided near stables and feed storage areas.

The assistance of the following people in the development of this guideline is gratefully acknowledged:

Mr Peter Fletcher
NSW Department of Sport, Recreation and Racing

Mr Brian Judd
Harness Racing Authority of NSW

Dr Elizabeth Kernohan
Local Government and Shires Associations

Mr Colin McCaskill
Animal Welfare Advisory Council

Mr Wayne Roberts
NSW Fire Brigades

Mr Rodd Williamson
Australian Jockey Club

Endorsed by the NSW Animal Welfare Advisory Council, February 1995