Any of us who have been on barn fires know that most result in surround and drown from the get go, especially if this barn is used to house hay or straw. But do we really think about what else may be in there?

 

In the rural parts of the country, we are called out on barn fires at least once a year. Some may be empty and some may be used to store equipment in. Then there are the hidden dangers. I'm talking about fertilizers, pesticides, and fuel tanks. It is very important for us as responders to know what "farmer John" has stored in his barn. If at all possible, try to preplan these barns and get as much info as possible before an emergency happens. Most farmers are more than willing to allow you the knoweledge of what types of chemicals or equipment is stored in their barn.

 

As with any type of fire, extreme care must be exercised when fighting a barn fire. There are many chemicals used in the agricultural industry that don't agree when mixed with eachother or water. Many of these chemicals create an exhilation hazard when in contact with water or when ignited. There may also be fuel tanks stored in the barn for farm machinery or other vehicles. Two years ago my department was called out for a barn fire that housed race cars, racing fuel and numerous quarts of motor oil. This was something we hadn't counted on. Fortunately for us, the racing fuel never ignited. Another hazard to us is the farm machinery itself. There are the fuel tanks on the tractors, the tires, and sharp edges on other types of machinery.

 

These are just a few points of safety. If anyone else would like to take it further, please do. I'm just trying to get the ball rolling on something that most of us don't think about until we are toned out for it.

 

Take care and stay safe!!!!

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Excellent point George!
I agree wholeheartedly George. But I would say that at least 95% of the barn fires that I have been on ended up being defensive attacks due to the severity and amount of fire. In most cases the owner doesn't even know their barn is on fire until it's too late. And in most cases the scene is miles away from the fire station. In these situations we should protect the surrounding exposures and try to prevent further loss of property. The title I used for this particular thread is actually a title of a training video that I watched a very long time ago. In the video, a fire department responded to a barn fire that, as far as the farmer knew, was "harmless." What had actually happened was that the farmer's son had moved a huge tank of fertilizer in the barn and didn't tell his father that it was in there. As the fire department made entry, the tank exploded, blowing them out the door of the barn. There were minor injuries, if I remember right, but no fatalities.

We responded to a barn fire this past Friday as mutual aid. As we went enroute, dispatch advised us that it was an aluminum barn with 2 fuel storage tanks right next to it. This is the reason for the thread. I want to make sure we take into consideration every possible thing we may run into with a barn fire. It's like an industrial fire in that it has it's own special hazards that we don't run into with a regular house fire. Before too long we will be responding more often to these types of fires as the farmers will be harvesting hay and storing it in the barns. I want to do everything I can to help the number of LODD's decrease.

Take care and stay safe all!!!!
A preplanned could be a good tool for awareness of hazards. Yes.. I know it takes time, but it's like many have stated, you just don't know whats in these structures! Our department offers a preplanned tour to our citizens, which has been educational to them, as well as us.

Something else to keep in mind, a wildland fire that could be heading towards a barn. A lot of barns have trees and shrubs all around them, creating a non defenceable space.
This is true too Rusty. Many of the barns around here have very tall weeds and thick grass on at least one side, if not more, of the structure. If IC isn't aware of wind speed and direction, the barn could become involved. This would create a bigger headache than the initial call.

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