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Overhead straw storage and fire hazard... tips?

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  • Overhead straw storage and fire hazard... tips?

    I am thinking of storing some straw in one half of my barn building, which is not over the stalls, for the winter as my bedding.

    However, fire has always been my worst fear in a barn. How do you manage to make it safe?

    There will be very limited electrical wiring in that section and regardless, all the wiring is brand new and to the code.

    Without going into sprinklers, is there anything special I can do to limit risk or am I freaking out for nothing anyways? (Which is always an option! )

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  • #2
    Make sure the straw is dry when stored. Keep the dust off your light fixtures if using incandescent bulbs. If you know any firemen, ask if they could stop by and inspect the place for things you may not notice. Fire folks "look at stuff" in a different way. Could point out a number of issues you never considered.

    With barns, you can only do things to prevent fires, in a place that just is full of flamable things. You can worry all the time, or take reasonable precautions, because that is "the best you can manage". Everyone can't afford or has the space for, a second barn for hay, straw storage. Some locations that would qualify as "hardship" because of the extra work it causes going thru snow or mud to move it. You just do the best you can with what you have.

    We store any fuel, oil products, in another, cement building. Don't keep motorized items, ATV, tractor, trucks, in the barn. Hot exhaust systems on or near dust, bedding pieces on the floor, can cause fires. You sound like the electric is covered already. Fire extinguishers of a good size, at every entrance. No stuff stored in the aisles or blocking doors/exits.

    Leaf blowers are helpful in dust removal, blowing the trusses, walls, floors a bit "extra clean" with their power. Reach places brooms don't and are quick to get things done. Wear PROTECTIVE gear, goggles, ear plugs, paper face mask for the dust they raise! Blow the barn out when ALL ANIMALS are outside!! I have an electric one, easy to use, light to handle.

    You can worry about fires, give yourself an ulcer. Not going to help or hinder a barn catching fire! Look at the other side. Locally, there are a LOT of 100 year old barns still standing, who have stored thousands of bales of straw and hay over the years. Lose more barns to old barn not being maintained, rotting timbers, falling down, than to barn fires. Also a lot of elderly pole barns, still standing here, still keeping the hay and straw dry after all this time. You keep an eye on things around the barn, prevent situations from happening that could lead to combustion. Maybe buy a fire alarm you can hear at the house, for best early warning.


    • #3
      Our 1865 barn was rewired alot in 2006 when we arrived and I added the 4 stalls, tackroom and grain room. The only concern we got when the Farm Bureau inspected our barn was that our outlet boxes weren't dustproof. Most aren't. So I clean them out every season.
      Hay storage seems to be the leader in dust creation.
      I power washed our barn once, but it was pretty fragrant for about 2-3 weeks after from wetting down the bat and bird poop.
      I think I would want a huge power fan to blow all the dust out of the barn after I got it airborne with the leaf blower.


      • #4
        I have a phobia of hantavirus. A relative died of a mysterious sickness that onset the day after he cleaned out a detached garage. It had all the markings of hantavirus- but (tinfoil hat stuff) they would not list it as a cause of death nor would they autopsy his body.

        Anyway- this thread is about barnfires, not rodent poop... but what I wanted to say is that I would be VERY VERY careful about blowing as a cleaning method. I think a respirator and shop vaccum is a better aproach than blowing.