Prevention is key
An article in Horse and Hound, 25th February 2016, tackles the heart breaking issue of the devastating effect of a major disaster when horses are involved. H&H identified that fire safety was a focus of the British Animal Rescue and Trauma Care at their recent conference in Prague where it was highlighted that planning and prevention were key to avoiding tragedy.
But what happens when you are at a show and stabling your horse away from home. Luckily you do not often hear of major fire incidents at events and this is due to the meticulous planning by the event organisers and the professionalism of all personnel involved in the day to day running of the events. There are simple things you can do to ensure that should the worst happen and a fire breaks out in the stabling area that you have a plan in place – on arrival familiarise yourself, check your exit routes and know where the evacuation assembly points are, locate the nearest fire extinguishers, do not store flammable items in the stable area, remind people not to smoke and help keep the aisles clear of clutter. Ultimately, if there is anything you are unsure about whether relating to your own circumstances or the actions of others within the stabling area then speak to the stable manager about your concerns.
One thing that is beyond your control will be the choice of temporary stables at the venue and as the BARTA article highlighted, the key aspect of good fire safety and prevention is the stable design. Experienced event organisers consistently put the safety of their competitors and their horses at the top of their planning list, from the stabling provided to the competition itself and at Woodhouse we ensure we use our experience in temporary stable design and installations to provide safe layouts, sensible exit travel distances along wide 3m+ aisles for assured fire tender access.
Adopting best practice design in accelerated smoke venting, our newest Greenwich and Hickstead barn stables force the rising smoke high and along their 4.0m curved ridge-line to vents at the meshed gable ends and also to exit at the open eaves above the 2.3m rear walls which run the full length of both sides of the block. In addition, we use 4.0 m wide aisles with stable doors which can open back an unobstructed 180 degrees to speed up the exit while also permitting fire tender access. We recommend safe travel exit distances of no more than 22.5m for grooms and horses when measured from the barn stable center-point and this limits the blocks to 30 stables maximum. We use flame retardant PVC for our roof covers which complies with current MUTA and EU regulations.
We hope that you all have a fantastic season this year – and stay safe!