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Anyone installed a fire sprinkler system in a stable?

I’d be very interested in any experience in installing a fire sprinkler system in a stable. The most relevant situation would be new construction of a medium sized facility (18 stalls) in a warm weather climate (i.e. don’t need to worry about frozen pipes) that will have plumbing for auto waterers, wash stalls, restroom, laundry. Incremental cost on a square foot basis?? Were you required to install or did you choose to do it even if not required? Experience with the system? Any other editorial comments?

Are you also asking your local fire department?

They may know which systems work well where you are and who installs them.

They may also give you tips on best building as fire proof and with access to their trucks.
I had ours come look before we built our covered arena with stalls on one long side.
They helped place it just right off the other buildings.
They are very proud of all they know about fire, pick their brains.


You will need heat sensors, smoke sensors will be set off by the dust.


A licensed fire protection engineer can answer these questions. There are also sprinkler contractors that could help.

This! I have talked to my husband about a system for a future barn but as a former firefighter he said you would be likely to get false alarms constantly. Maybe there is something he hadn’t heard of but they got a lot of false alarms even from churches…

A friend of mine got special sensors and a sprinkler system built in her barn. She hired some kind of consultant to make the product recommendations for her.

Having managed the construction of a few industrial sprinkler systems in my career. The major issue with a fire sprinkler system is the water supply. A typical home well or city water connection will not provide enough water flow and pressure for adequate coverage. 18 stall barn… say 10x10 each means 1800 square feet of coverage plus 10x90 aisle, if there is a hay loft above, double that. for 5,400 sq ft. Hay & shavings are a high btu source so the required flow is likely very high…and expensive. If you can get past the cost, sprinkler systems with fusible heads are very reliable. It takes a significant fire on the floor to set them off. Don’t believe the movies where the hero holds a lighter to a head and the whole place is doused with water. If you want to set one off, just smack the head with the heel of your shoe.

Several years ago, New Homes in Georgia were being built with sprinklers in the garage. I believe the object was to slow the fire to allow escape more than control a burning automobile.

This is a good source for starting your research.

What is NFPA 150?

NFPA 150: Document Scope
1.1 Scope. 1.1.1* This standard shall provide the minimum requirements for the design, construction, fire protection, and classification of animal housing facilities. A.1.1.1 The requirements of NFPA 150 recognize the following fundamental principles: (1) Animals are sentient beings with a value greater than that of simple property. (2) Animals, both domesticated and feral, lack the ability of self-preservation when housed in buildings and other structures. (3) Current building, fire, and life safety codes do not address the life safety of the animal occupants. The requirements found in NFPA 150 are written with the intention that animal housing facilities will continue to be designed, constructed, and maintained in accordance with the applicable building, fire, and life safety codes. The requirements herein are not intended to replace or rewrite the basic requirements for the human occupants. Instead, NFPA 150 provides additional minimum requirements for the protection of the animal occupants and the human occupants who interact with those animals in these facilities. NFPA 150 is divided into three major sections: The first section, Chapters 1 through 3, contains only administrative requirements, while the second section, Chapters 4 through 10, provides general requirements for all facilities housing animals (i.e., facility subclassification, animal category, construction, means of egress, fire protection, and interior finish requirements), and the third section, Chapters 11–13, includes specific requirements focused on the class of the facility. 1.1.2 Animal housing facilities shall be designed, constructed, and maintained in accordance with the adopted building, fire, and life safety codes and the requirements herein. 1.1.3 Where requirements of this standard differ from the adopted fire prevention, life safety, and building codes, the requirements of this standard shall govern the protection of the animal occupants and animal handlers.

This standard establishes life and safety requirements for both humans and animals in 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.

hosspuller – I am aware of NFPA 150 – it is the standard that the local Land Planning people are citing in their stated requirement that we put a sprinkler system in a newly constructed stable. While I totally get the rationale behind the standard I am concerned about the practicalities (as cited by other posters) and the cost. Water supply will clearly be an issue – and will require some sort of large holding tank. My contractor and I are planning to meet with local Fire Safety professionals to see if we can’t work out a practical compromise.
So again – anyone with any actual experience with sprinkler systems in stables – I would appreciate your input.

OP, look at this website: www.tlaer.org and also look on Facebook for Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue (or TLAER). Rebecca Gimenez is the lead instructor and she has done extensive research and has let numerous fire safety courses especially for barns. I am certain she could point you in the right direction. She very well may be able to tell you who near you has installed a fire protection system in a barn.


PS Here is email for Dr. Rebecca Gimenez: delphiacres@hotmail.com

Here is the link to the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tlaer/

Perhaps I’m confused.

Do you WANT to install such a system? Or are you being FORCED by some Code Enforcement Authority to instal FPS?

If you WANT to install an FPS system, the a licensed sprinkler contractor or a professional engineer can help.

If it is Code Enforcement, then that’s another story. And I would look at what are the requirements for agricultural facilities… The U. Fla has a large Equine unit that might be able to help define the requirements for livestock facilities…which would be different from residential.

OP, is the Land Planning board requiring sprinklers because of the total square foot of the structure (often it above 5,000 sq/ft )? if so can you break the structure into separate buildings that each are less than the threshold requiring sprinklers? and if you are considering an indoor leave the siding off as it changes the structure’s definition

Here we have to have at least a 6 inch water main to support a system (or hydrant which we have)

OP here — The county Land Planning people are the ones saying we need to have a fire sprinkler system. The property is Ag Exempt so my contractor and I doubt they actually have the ability to enforce this requirement but we still need to work this out. We are going to meet with the Fire Safety officials and see if we can work out an acceptable compromise agreement. Our plan is consistent with fire prevention — concrete block construction, metal ceiling panels, no hayloft, no storage of large quantities of hay, separate utility building for farm vehicle and fuel storage. And we are proposing a fire alarm system. We’re concerned about the high cost of a fire sprinkler system and concerns about practicalities in a high dust stable environment – and we do not have a municipal water system so adequate water supply also be an issue. The estimated cost is VERY high. Our stalls will have both interior and exterior doors and barn staff will live on property. Keeping fingers crossed that we can come up with a safe compromise solution.

OK…my suggestion is that you find a registered fire protection professional engineer (PE) in your area to be your advocate…besides your contractor.

These guys have the credentials to discuss the technical intent and usually have connections and well known to local fire marshals.

While it sounds as though you don’t really want sprinklers OP, they can save lives and I do know of a barn that was only damaged, not destroyed because of sprinklers. Maybe you could come to a compromise such as sprinklers only down the center isle and in the living areas like the tack rooms. Since you have escape doors out the sides for the horses this could be a safe option. I also suggest fire alarms that alert your phone or the local fire department.

325/head plus engineering, excavation for new main, permitting.
Thats New England pricing for a new system.
and also you need a fire alarm to monitor the sprinkler system per NFPA.

Good suggestion. Thanks

Have they mention access to the structure? just wondering as when I was on a Planning & Zoning board we were more concerned about access to all points of the structure. Several buildings were required to put fire lanes around the complete building even if the area was a lawn We only had sprinkler requirements on commercial buildings greater than 5,000 sq/ft.

Definitely talk to an fire protection engineer. I would look into watermist systems as well - they often use less water than traditional sprinkler systems.

Curious - thinking about newer technologies - are there IR thermography sensors that might trip based on a high temperature reading?

I assume that the sooner you detect a true emergency and deploy the water, the less water is required to control the situation.


Preaction deluge. And yes changing device response is possible with intelligent systems. Meaning that can’t be bought at the supply house but through a distributor