Chicken OOPS!

Recently, there has been a strong community movement within the City of Wheat Ridge, City of Edgewater, and the surrounding communities toward raising chickens as pets and for food. While both an ecologically and economically beneficial practice, it does pose new challenges for our local urban farmers as well as for the fire department. The freezing temperatures that we can sometimes experience during the winter months occasionally necessitates the need to heat chicken coops in order to keep our feathered friends warm and their water from freezing. However heating chicken coops can be extremely dangerous if not done properly. Within just a two week period in December, the Wheat Ridge Fire Department responded to three fires in chicken coops or similar animal outbuildings. These fires resulted in the death of eleven chickens and a property loss of nearly $60,000.

Most all bedding, insulation, and bird feathers are easily ignitable when in proximity to a heat source such as a space heater or heat lamp. If you determine your coop must be heated, please consult a knowledgeable and reputable dealer for heating accessories, such as coop specific radiant heat mats, that are safe to use with your chickens or other outdoor animals. If you intend to utilize electrical or gas heaters be sure to contact the City of Wheat Ridge Building Department for a list of licensed contractors and for any permits that may be necessary in order to ensure the work is conducted in a safe and appropriate manner.

Some additional tips from hobbyfarms.com:

  • Some chicken keepers swear by heating the coop during the harshest of winters. While there is a benefit to using a heater or lamp (supplemental light means more winter eggs), consider the safety risk. Heaters plus dry pine shavings or other bedding can quickly become a fire hazard unless properly or professionally installed. Also consider the possibility of power outages and a subsequent drop in temperature. Chickens cannot adapt to a sudden plunge in mercury, and it could spell disaster for your entire flock in one night.
  • As an alternative, you can allow your chickens to gradually acclimate to the cooler weather during autumn without heat. In the fall, check your coop’s roof to ensure it won’t leak during heavy snows. Protect your chickens from heavy drafts, but be certain there is adequate ventilation in their enclosure. Accumulated moisture during the cold months can lead to frostbite.
  • Finally, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of insulation in your coop. Your birds will roost together and create a good amount of heat on their own (the equivalent of 10 watts of heat per chicken). All you have to do is help the heat stay there.

Additional strategies to help you avoid heating your coop can be found at this link: communitychickens.com

Please contact the Wheat Ridge Fire Protection District with questions or for additional information at 303-403-5900.

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Comments (0) Jan 10 2014

Posted: under News and Updates.

2012 Annual Report

Wheat Ridge Fire Protection District releases its 2012 Annual Report. Click here to see it and other important documents

Comments (0) Jun 10 2013

Posted: under News and Updates.

9News: Wheat Ridge Fire Department provides better access for teen

On Saturday, May 19, 2012, Wheat Ridge Fire Fighters donated their time and energy to assist a local family modify their home to allow wheelchair access for honorary Fire Chief Shawn Miller. Please click on the link below to view the 9 News story.

Watch the video at 9News.com >>

Comments (0) May 21 2012

Posted: under News and Updates.