Fire service calls for yard owners to act after horses die in blaze

  • A fire service is urging owners to think about fire safety on stable yards after three horses died in a devastating livery yard blaze.

    Outbuildings were also destroyed in the fire, which had started as a result of an electrical fault in the tack room.

    East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said the building had contained a number of appliances.

    “The stables were well run and the owner was careful that the appliances were not used unless someone was present in the building, but even these measures were unable to prevent the devastation of this fire,” said a spokesman.

    The fire started late at night and high winds allowed it to take hold, spreading through the building rapidly. A neighbour and passing driver raised the alarm.

    “It was 2.25am on an extremely windy December night that I awoke to my neighbour banging on my front door with the words ‘There is a fire at the stables’,” said the yard owner.

    “I could see the flames through the glass of the front door; sheer panic went through my whole body.

    “Running outside just as the fire engine arrived was a relief, but going into the yard to see the stable building completely gutted, and no horses’ heads over the doors was the worst experience of my life.”

    Other horses were safely evacuated, but tack worth about £45,000 was lost.

    The fire service highlighted the fact that stables are at risk as their location is often secluded, meaning fires can get a significant hold before the alarm is raised, and owing to combustible construction materials and the presence of flammable materials such as hay and straw.

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    “The risk of fire occurring in stables can be minimised through building design, fire detection devices and good management practices,” said a spokesman for the service.

    Information on complying with safety law can be found in a downloadable document on the government website but further safety measures include:

    • Store hay, bedding, feed and equipment (including fuels, oils and solvents), preferably away from stables.
    • Ban smoking or put strictly controlled smoking policies in place.
    • Consider the use of fire detection and suppression systems, for example, sprinklers are being developed specifically for stables.
    • Keeping all electrical appliances, machinery and their associated wiring in good repair and not overloading sockets.

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