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Electrical issues in barns - spin off

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  • #21
    Cloudy and Callie-What sort of covers on fluorescent light bulbs are you referring to?
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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    • #22
      A. If the breaker is popping? There is an overload and that IS a big problem.

      B. The fluorescent light covers are just like a piece of plastic placed underneath the bulb so if they blow up, it catches the pieces. TBH, in a barn, a cover can also catch the top of horses head before it hits the bulbs.
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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      • #23
        Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
        Cloudy and Callie-What sort of covers on fluorescent light bulbs are you referring to?
        they are flat plastic covers that cover the bottom of the entire light fixture. I presume the county got them from a hardware store or light fixture company. The county workers just snapped them onto all the light fixtures in the courthouse over the weekend, after we all explained to the workers what had happened with all the sparks flying around us. Then I totally understood what had happened at Joe Burton's barn to his Arabians.

        Comment


        • #24
          I don't think there is any way anyone can ever imagine the terror of losing horses in a fire.

          When Blue Ribbon race track burned down and several horses died and others were burned, several trainers, owners and exercise riders just quit the horse industry completely, it was very traumatic for everyone there.

          I don't think anyone can be paranoid enough to try to make any barn as fire safe as possible.

          If someone has breakers tripping, just please have that checked out ... yesterday!

          Comment


          • #25
            Bluey - I have to disagree with you, wood is fine to build with as long as you take good care about your wiring and earthing/grounding. Most buildings in NZ are framed in wood with trusses. Our recent rather earthquake damage, we didn't ave wide spread fires.

            OP: If you are getting sparks, then you have insulation damage, over-loaded circuits, or other damage. It certainly should be checked out by a competent qualified person. Certainly, I would expect the earthing/grounding to be checked as it may be insufficient.
            Still Working_on_it - one day I will get it!

            Comment


            • #26
              When I worked at a hospital, administrative staff was housed in a separate, modular building (this included me). That building burned literally to the ground one night -- it was an awful mess.

              Apparently, the fire marshal was able to determine the cause was a faulty fluorescent light ballast. The lights were not on when the fire started -- the ballast caused the fire even though they were off.

              I never understood it, but I refused to allow fluorescent lights to be installed in our barn because of it. I just wanted to pass along that, apparently, turning them off does not necessarily mean they won't start a fire anyway!

              I worry about this constantly -- we have certified electrical everywhere in our barn and separate hay storage. But we do use heated water buckets in the winter and we do not have exits out of each stall. And, to keep out the howling wind, we usually lock-down the big sliders. I am not at home tonight -- traveling on business. But I think I'm going to call DH tomorrow and tell him to not lock down the sliders any more. We would never be able to get into that barn in time to save anyone with those doors locked down like that!

              Now I just hope I can sleep ... I know the boys are all inside tonight. Dang! Glad I read this thread, wish I would have thought about those doors before now!

              Comment


              • #27
                Originally posted by RaeHughes View Post
                Bluey - I have to disagree with you, wood is fine to build with as long as you take good care about your wiring and earthing/grounding. Most buildings in NZ are framed in wood with trusses. Our recent rather earthquake damage, we didn't ave wide spread fires.

                OP: If you are getting sparks, then you have insulation damage, over-loaded circuits, or other damage. It certainly should be checked out by a competent qualified person. Certainly, I would expect the earthing/grounding to be checked as it may be insufficient.
                I didn't say wood is not fine to build with.
                I said most barns are wood barns, because it is what was available to build with for centuries and still what makes sense today for many.

                I say, other is better, if you have a choice, as a way to minimize wood use in barns.
                Wood IS the most flammable of those materials.

                Yes, metal and concrete barns burn down also, because of all the flammables inside, but the whole structure takes longer to burn.
                There is more time to isolate some of it and put the fire out then an all wood barn or warehouse.

                I have talked to firemen and they have always told me that and more.
                Fires are not that simple that what you use to build any structure is all there is to avoid them, but it is one more factor to consider.

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by King's Ransom View Post
                  When I worked at a hospital, administrative staff was housed in a separate, modular building (this included me). That building burned literally to the ground one night -- it was an awful mess.

                  Apparently, the fire marshal was able to determine the cause was a faulty fluorescent light ballast. The lights were not on when the fire started -- the ballast caused the fire even though they were off.

                  I never understood it, but I refused to allow fluorescent lights to be installed in our barn because of it. I just wanted to pass along that, apparently, turning them off does not necessarily mean they won't start a fire anyway!

                  I worry about this constantly -- we have certified electrical everywhere in our barn and separate hay storage. But we do use heated water buckets in the winter and we do not have exits out of each stall. And, to keep out the howling wind, we usually lock-down the big sliders. I am not at home tonight -- traveling on business. But I think I'm going to call DH tomorrow and tell him to not lock down the sliders any more. We would never be able to get into that barn in time to save anyone with those doors locked down like that!

                  Now I just hope I can sleep ... I know the boys are all inside tonight. Dang! Glad I read this thread, wish I would have thought about those doors before now!
                  I hear you.
                  For many years, training out of our old race horse barn, truly a firetrap, we just turned the breaker off when we were not there.
                  We had 22 stalls, a tack room, wash room, bathroom and bunk room, where the night watchman stayed when we were full.

                  The wiring thru the barn, built in 1959/60, was the old aluminum wire, that later was made illegal, it caused so many fires.
                  It was strung along the framing under the roof, no conduit and had porcelain fixtures you screw a light to with strings to turn them on and off individually.

                  The structure was all wood stucco clad on the outside, which let the termites crawl right up the walls to the rafters.
                  It was in a draw full of poplar trees looming over the barn, that will burn even when green.

                  For the years we used that barn, several times many of us would wake up in a panic from dreams of the barn on fire.

                  We never had a fire there, but one would have been unstoppable and would have burn anyone in there right away.

                  There is other than electric problems that can start fires.
                  In those days, practically everyone at the barn smoked, grooms, owners, visitors, because everyone smoked then.
                  You just hoped they were careful.

                  At least the hay and straw for bedding were stored across the yard in the hay barn, a metal building with pens all around, not built right by trees, much less apt to be involved in a fire other than from the hay itself.

                  In the North and where it is very cold, you need to keep barns closed up for warmth.
                  That is the idea of having a barn there, so that a barn will be closed when cold and those are part of the risks we have to take.
                  Just make the barn as safe as possible, the entrances and exists as easy to manage as you can as we all do already.

                  Once we have done all we can, we really need to relax, the rest is out of our hands.
                  Fretting over what may happen then, when we can't do any more, will only make us neurotic.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by findeight View Post
                    A. If the breaker is popping? There is an overload and that IS a big problem.
                    Or the breakers is old and simply not working right anymore. That does happen.
                    But more likely there is an issue and no matter the problem it should be looked at by someone who is qualified, not some random person who has a cousin who once installed a breaker so they told them how.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #30
                      @Bluey: It's not at my barn where that's happened but one where some friends board at. They've complained about a BO who is inattentive to a few things, so I imagine they will probably leave. Regardless of what's causing it, the sparking problem doesn't sound like something to ignore like the BO appears to be doing.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by King's Ransom View Post
                        ........I never understood it, but I refused to allow fluorescent lights to be installed in our barn because of it. I just wanted to pass along that, apparently, turning them off does not necessarily mean they won't start a fire anyway!..............
                        What type of lighting do you have? I read that incandescent lamps are much more likely to be a source of ignition as they operate at a much higher temperature. So which would be safer?
                        "My treasures do not chink or gleam, they glitter in the sun and neigh at night."

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by cloudyandcallie View Post
                          Fluorescent lighting is a bad thing in barns, unless with covers.
                          To make this a more accurate statement: ANY unlensed lighting in barns is bad. Very very bad.

                          Doesn't matter if it is linear fluorescent, compact fluorescent, Incandescent (the worst) or HID. (LED might be the only exception.). If you have naked bulbs in your barn, fix them RIGHT NOW.

                          Unlensed lights in closets used to be one of the biggest causes of house fires... Bulbs would explode or break, hot glass falling and igniting piles of flammable material. The building code now requires that closet fixtures be lensed.
                          Last edited by rhymeswithfizz; Feb. 5, 2014, 08:43 PM.
                          where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            So here's a question: the place I board is inspected by a county? state? fire inspector every year. He has what appears to be a fairly standard checkoff sheet, and has reported violations in the past, such as extension cords, and does return to follow up. Is this common in other states? I can't imagine he looks at details like the quality of the wiring and I know he doesn't consider uncaged lightbulbs a violation. Comments?

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by betsyk View Post
                              So here's a question: the place I board is inspected by a county? state? fire inspector every year. He has what appears to be a fairly standard checkoff sheet, and has reported violations in the past, such as extension cords, and does return to follow up. Is this common in other states? I can't imagine he looks at details like the quality of the wiring and I know he doesn't consider uncaged lightbulbs a violation. Comments?
                              Never seen one from any jurisdiction any place I have been. Have seen one from the insurance company a few times but no idea of the frequency or reasons.

                              Its possible some city, county or state regulations exist for any commercial business over a certain size or any place of business period. But many barns are specifically located farther out to avoid any regulation. Many barns are also rented or leased from absentee property owners and/or under the radar to avoid taxes or proper labor practices.

                              Lots of opportunity to cut corners without consequence...until the barn blows up.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                oooh, bad ballasts in fluorescent strips-
                                I've had SEVERAL fires from those. (pet store) Most I was able to put out, but the one that started late at night (light was off) killed all our hermit crabs and ruined 80% of our inventory. What the fire didn't ruin the sprinklers did. Fire department did get all the other animals out though.

                                I hate those aquarium strip lights.
                                ~Former Pet Store Manager (10yrs)
                                ~Vintage Toy Dealer (rememberswhen.us)
                                ~Vet Tech Student
                                Mom to : 1 Horse, 4 Dogs, 3 Cats

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by betsyk View Post
                                  So here's a question: the place I board is inspected by a county? state? fire inspector every year. He has what appears to be a fairly standard checkoff sheet, and has reported violations in the past, such as extension cords, and does return to follow up. Is this common in other states? I can't imagine he looks at details like the quality of the wiring and I know he doesn't consider uncaged lightbulbs a violation. Comments?
                                  Wow where I live I don't think any barns are inspected other than newly built facilities w/ county/local inspectors - so that's pretty impressive. No matter what the construction of a barn (wood or metal) much of what's in a barn is basically an accelerant - hay, shavings. If I were to own and design my own barn I'd definitely factor in pricing for a separate building to house the hay & shavings. I think there are some barn builders that use fire retardant materials which is interesting. Two barn fires in my area were both metal barns, I know one was an electrical fire, not sure if the other was electrical or hay combustion - so while metal might not burn to the ground as fast, it gets hot which would be difficult for any rescue. I understand some of the issues with barns is people are using electricity and appliances in older barns which weren't designed to have that kind of electrical usage wheres newer barns are built w/ heated tack rooms, fans, hot water in mind. You can't take a barn built 40 years ago and run all this power thru it without rewiring. My old barn's electrical system used to freak the daylights out of me, but then I would sometimes feel better than it didn't have a electrical juice to ignite anything. But when my horse was on stall rest ( his stall was right next to the dang cobweb covered fuse box) the lights kept blowing the fuse.. I made the mistake of looking at the fuse box seriously repairing w/ chewing gum wrappers.. made for several sleepless nights. As I said OLD as in Former barn. Needless to say there is a lot to be said for field board or 24 hour turnout.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by SnicklefritzG View Post
                                    They make popping sounds quite a bit and she said when you look closer, there are sparks flying out of certain parts of the wiring.

                                    Pretty much how electric fences work. Areas get worn over time, popping and arcing are the result.

                                    If you are talking about the wiring between the outlet and the charger, that is a different issue entirely.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Hi Bluey - don't agree. Wood is a good building source -it flexes with temp changes, if well built weathers well. What you are talking about is poor maintenance and most ignition sources are due to electrical faults igniting something more flammable. When I talk of earthquake damage, google Christchurch NZ and you will see images of houses built on wood frames tha did not burn despite age and flammable products. We are talking of widespread damage. In earthquakes in USA, most fires were nit due to the wood frame but due to electrical ignition of a flammable product -mostly some form of gas.

                                      As background, I worked in our electricity lines industry - as an electrical engineer -and I did quite a few forensic engineering investigations so have some background in this area.

                                      To the OP , most electricians etc can do a rangeof tests to determine the quality of the electrical wiring. Shouldn't take more than 2 hours. If any of you are concerned at all -get a comprehensive electrical tests and then do a comprehensive review of what is stored where. Keep light fittings well cleaned -cobwebs get hot and can burn. Keep gas fuel away from the barn. Check all electrical appliances for frayed cords, blackening or scorch marks, a smell of burnt caramel (for some reason the most comin smell) or indeed a smell of burning . If you are concerned, isolate the appliance or electrical circuit by removing the appliance or removing the fuse or circuit breaker on the circuit and get expert help to check it out.

                                      I have investigated barn fires (hay and with 1 dead human). They are not pleasant -and the biggest trap for ALL investigators is that correlation doesn't equal causation !! We al go in with an idea but the arguments between the separate experts can be really eye-opening .

                                      The worst investigation I have ever done involved an electrocution - one of the key indicators according to the pathologist was the smell of cooked pork that this was an electrocution. I didnt eat pork for a long #of years after THAT eeroence.

                                      To the OP
                                      Still Working_on_it - one day I will get it!

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by RaeHughes View Post
                                        Hi Bluey - don't agree. Wood is a good building source -it flexes with temp changes, if well built weathers well. What you are talking about is poor maintenance and most ignition sources are due to electrical faults igniting something more flammable. When I talk of earthquake damage, google Christchurch NZ and you will see images of houses built on wood frames tha did not burn despite age and flammable products. We are talking of widespread damage. In earthquakes in USA, most fires were nit due to the wood frame but due to electrical ignition of a flammable product -mostly some form of gas.

                                        As background, I worked in our electricity lines industry - as an electrical engineer -and I did quite a few forensic engineering investigations so have some background in this area.

                                        To the OP , most electricians etc can do a rangeof tests to determine the quality of the electrical wiring. Shouldn't take more than 2 hours. If any of you are concerned at all -get a comprehensive electrical tests and then do a comprehensive review of what is stored where. Keep light fittings well cleaned -cobwebs get hot and can burn. Keep gas fuel away from the barn. Check all electrical appliances for frayed cords, blackening or scorch marks, a smell of burnt caramel (for some reason the most comin smell) or indeed a smell of burning . If you are concerned, isolate the appliance or electrical circuit by removing the appliance or removing the fuse or circuit breaker on the circuit and get expert help to check it out.

                                        I have investigated barn fires (hay and with 1 dead human). They are not pleasant -and the biggest trap for ALL investigators is that correlation doesn't equal causation !! We al go in with an idea but the arguments between the separate experts can be really eye-opening .

                                        The worst investigation I have ever done involved an electrocution - one of the key indicators according to the pathologist was the smell of cooked pork that this was an electrocution. I didnt eat pork for a long #of years after THAT eeroence.

                                        To the OP
                                        Well, since you are the expert, guess that we need to listen to you.

                                        The experts I talked to are the ones that have told me what I stated.
                                        Sorry, we will have to agree to disagree on some of that.

                                        The readers here will have to find out more for themselves and then apply what they think is best for them.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          It is great to see so many discussions going on about barn safety! If you are serious about making your facility as safe as possible, then this is the gold standard to follow.

                                          The NFPA sets national standards for fire codes across the country.

                                          NFPA 150: "Standard on Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities" is the most up-to-date and current documentation from the National Fire Protection Association, and should be available through your local fire department.

                                          If they don't have it - they should; ask them to get a copy! Hope this starts a good dialogue with your local fire departments.

                                          You can read your own copy by completing a basic registration form. There is no print, copy or save function - it is read online only.

                                          The PDF version is available for $42.00 through the NFPA website.

                                          Follow the best practices for safe animal housing facilities including first-time guidance for performance-based design in the 2013 NFPA 150.

                                          Expanded with a new chapter on performance-based design, the 2013 edition of NFPA 150: Standard on Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities is the industry benchmark used to safeguard the health and welfare of animals while protecting human life and property.

                                          Used by engineers, architects, and AHJs, NFPA 150 covers all types of animal housing facilities where animals are kept for any purpose, including barns, stables, kennels, animal shelters, veterinary facilities, zoos, laboratories, and racetracks.

                                          The document is divided into three major sections:
                                          * Section 1 contains administrative requirements.
                                          * Section 2 provides general requirements for all facilities housing animals, including new Chapter 5 on performance-based design that gives designers more flexibility and assists authorities with plans review.
                                          * Section 3 includes specific requirements focused on the class of the facility.

                                          Updated for industry developments and trends, the 2013 NFPA 150 also presents:

                                          * A new Annex on system design that takes animal reaction to alarms into consideration
                                          * A new construction table in Chapter 7 reflecting the 2012 edition of NFPA 5000®: Building Construction and Safety Code®.

                                          (Softbound, 30 pp., 2013)


                                          http://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standa...=code&code=150
                                          "Let's face it -- Beezie Madden is NOT looking over her shoulder for me anytime
                                          soon . . . or ever, even in her worst nightmares."


                                          Member, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous

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