Every barn owner worries about the risk of fire. Barn fires are an unfortunate reality - but they’re also largely preventable. If you know the facts about barn fires and take the appropriate safety precautions, you can avoid most of the risk of fire easily.

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Understanding the Causes of Barn Fires

Nobody wants to think about the possibility of a barn fire - and that often leads to people being careless about fire risks. Many barn fires are caused by simple or easily preventable factors, such as:

  • Defective or improperly used heating equipment such as space heaters, heated water buckets, or portable water heaters.
  • Improper storage of flammable materials such as machine oil, fuel, or dry materials like hay, wood, or straw.
  • Human errors like smoking in a barn or accidentally leaving hot tools near flammable material.

All of these causes are preventable with the right precautions and training. You simply need to be proactive about controlling these fire risks before they cause problems.

Lowering Fire Risk

If you’re concerned about the possibility of fire in your barn, there are some steps you can - and should - take to lower your risk. These steps fall into two basic categories: fire prevention and fire control.


The first step to fire prevention is training. You should always train anyone using your barn regularly on fire prevention measures such as avoiding smoking and storing materials and tools properly. The best way to prevent a fire is to ensure everyone is taking steps to do the same.

You also need to be careful with potential fire sources, especially electrical devices like heaters and tools. You should inspect all of your electrical devices regularly to watch for problems like frayed wires, damaged insulation or bad connections. Also, avoid using extension cords too much, and try to use heavy-duty cords with high amperage values and insulation when you need one. Finally, consider having your barn’s electrics inspected by an electrician or code inspector to catch problems early.

Another fire prevention strategy is lowering the amount of available fuel. That means storing dry materials like hay, straw, wood or sawdust away from your animals, possibly in another building altogether. You should also be careful with storing flammable materials like oil, kerosene, gas, or chemicals, and ensure you clean up any spills quickly.

A fourth fire prevention tip is to keep your barn neat and clean. This means reducing the level of dust, cobwebs, chaff, and other material as much as possible inside your barn. These materials are highly flammable and can ignite easily, so you should do what you can to remove them.

Finally, consider your barn’s structure itself. Wooden barns are inherently flammable, especially as the wood ages and dries. If you’re building a new barn consider making it out of steel instead - steel barns are much safer in terms of fire risk and can help protect your animals, machines and other property.


Along with fire prevention, it’s also necessary to have fire control measures in place in case a fire does break out.

The first fire control measure you should have are accessible fire extinguishers and water sources throughout your barn. Make sure your extinguishers are in good condition and within their service dates, and that your visitors and employees are trained on how to use them.

Another important control measure is to keep your barn aisles, doorways, and stall openings clear. Never stack large objects in a doorway or obstruct the doors from opening. The last thing you want is to trap yourself or others inside your barn during an emergency.

One measure that isn’t used as much in barns is to install optical smoke detectors in fire-prone or high-risk areas such as hay storage, tack rooms and areas with lots of electrical equipment. Optical smoke detectors won’t become clogged with dust or cobwebs, and they can provide early warning of fire so you have more time to extinguish or evacuate. For larger barns, you might also consider installing or retrofitting a sprinkler system too.

Finally, develop an evacuation plan to get yourself, other people, and your animals to safety in the event of a fire. Your plan should give you multiple ways to get out of your barn quickly. Then, practice your plan with others who use your barn. This step is often overlooked, but it’s one of the best ways to keep yourself safe in a fire emergency.

Steel Barns and More

Steel barns and structures have many benefits beyond fire resistance. They are easy to build, extremely strong, and can last a lifetime. If you’re interested in getting a steel barn or building for your property, contact us today at Bargain Barns USA. Call 405-872-0338 or visit us on Facebook to learn more and start the process today.