I really enjoy your books and website,
but I have a suggestion for fire safety, which I have never encountered before
or since our barn fire.
Our barn was the typical
"big old red barn" with large sliding doors at each end, which, as you
know, are latched from the inside. When our10-stall barn burned down in January
2005, we realized the danger of having only two man-doors that allowed access
from the outside! It was wintertime, and the sliding aisle-way doors were latched
from the inside, as well as two stall exits. We were only able to save one horse
(of six) because my dad had a superman moment, and was able to tear apart one
of the stall exits. There was just no way to get into the barn.
books were very helpful in building our new barn. Only 4 stalls this time, and
each stall has a Dutch-door with a latch that can be operated from either side.
We still have sliding aisle doors, but the are rarely secured!
don't expect a reply; I know you get tons of mail. Just consider my tragic lesson
learned next time you discuss fire safety or barn building!
like to post your tip but I'm unclear on the doors. I see you had the large sliding
doors latched from the inside. But how did you normally get into the barn yourself?
You mentioned only having two man doors - were these not usable during the fire?
Were they both located where the fire was blazing? Just a bit more detail would
be helpful. I appreciate it and I know other horse owners would too.
fire started in the middle of the barn. It was about half involved when we discovered
it. We were able to get into the man-doors, one at each end, but couldn't get
in far enough to reach the sliding door latches (or horses) for all the smoke.
My dad was willing to try, but we thought sliding the aisleway doors open might
fuel the fire. There was no way the horses could be rescued from the aisle, anyway.
The two stall access doors were secured from the inside with a boltsnap-and-eyehook.
Like I said before, Dad was able to rip one of them open.
did have an overhead hay loft. Although the fire did not start there, it created
an incredible amount of smoke (and incidentally, smoldered for a LONG time after
all was said and done.) Two separate fire investigators could not find a definite
cause. One of them said his best guess would be "dust on a lightbulb".
are not many options for securing a large sliding door, so in the new barn, we
had to go with the old latches. We did not like the look
of the overhead garage door. For the stall exits, we built Dutch doors with a
twisting latch that can be used from either side. I suppose a clever horse could
figure it out.... but I'll cross that bridge if I ever come to it!
guess my biggest recommendation is to have a working escape door for each stall.
Believe me, my family and I deal with the loss of our horses every day. I teach
riding lessons, too, so I also had to explain everything to six little girls and
help them deal with their grief as well as my own.
for your time, I know you are busy!
Thanks so much for sharing your story and suggestions
with other horse owners.
recommendation is to have two doors to every stall - one that opens to the barn
aisle and one that opens to the outdoors, such as to a pen. We also recommend
that the exterior stall door has a safe, horseproof latch that can be opened from
the inside or the outside.
show and demonstrate the custom-made latches that Richard made for our barn in
the video Your
Horse Barn and also show a photo of a commercial two-way latch in the book
a suitable two-way latching system can be difficult and that is why Richard created
custom latches for our barn.
Such an issue bears repeating
and deserves great emphasis and I thank you for bringing it to the attention of
other horse owners.
Best of luck,