Mrs. O’Leary’s cow may have gotten a bad rap, but the folktale reminds us fire safety is an important part of farm life. People, animals and property are in danger when fire breaks out on the farm. Inspect your barn and outbuildings for fire hazards to reduce the risk of tragic loss.

Follow this checklist to prevent disaster in your facilities:

  • Heat lamps and space heaters are kept a safe distance from anything that can burn.
  • Heaters are on a sturdy surface and cannot fall over.
  • Electrical equipment is labeled for agricultural or commercial use.
  • All wiring is free from damage.
  • Extension cords are not used in the barn.
  • Light bulbs have covers to protect them from dust, moisture and breakage.
  • Damage is identified quickly, and repairs are completed with safety in mind.
  • Dust and cobwebs around electrical outlets and lights are removed.
  • Oily rags are stored in a closed, metal container away from heat.
  • Feed, hay, straw and flammable liquids are stored away from the main barn.
  • The barn is a smoke-free zone.
  • Exits are clearly marked and pathways are clear.
  • Fire drills are held frequently with everyone who uses the barn.
  • Workers are trained to use fire extinguishers.
  • Everyone in the barn knows personal safety is the first priority if a fire breaks out.
  • Hazard checks take place on a set schedule.

Required equipment

The following safety equipment may be required by local building codes and will help protect your barn. Install and maintain:

  • ABC-type fire extinguishers near every exit and within 50 feet from any point in the barn
  • Fire alarm system
  • Sprinkler system
  • Carbon monoxide detection system

Talk with your local fire department to address safety concerns unique to your farm.

Go to the National Fire Protection Association website to learn more about fire safety on the farm.  end mark


—From the National Fire Protection Association