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Tips available to reduce risk of barn fires

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The provincial government has unveiled valuable resources to help farmers reduce the risk of barn fires this winter—the time when most barn fires occur.

“As a former volunteer firefighter who has witnessed the devastation caused by barn fires, I am always saddened to hear when we face these kinds of losses on our farms,” said Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs minister Ernie Hardeman.

“I highly encourage all farmers to learn more about the resources my ministry provides and to consult with their local fire departments or insurer on farm fire safety planning,” he noted.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has released a series of new videos on ways to prevent barn fires.

The videos are part of an ongoing effort with farmers and industry to develop different ways to reduce the potential loss of human and animal lives, injury, and property damage from barn fires.

Visit Ontario.ca\preventfarmfires to learn more about preventing barn fires, as well as to view these recently-added resources:

  • a fact sheet on the 10 ways to reduce the risk of barn fires;
  • a video on good housekeeping practices in barns;
  • a video on safety practices regarding electrical equipment; and
  • a video on safety practices when performing hotworks such as welding, grinding, and torching.

Preparation and planning also are crucial in barn fire prevention:

  • have a contingency plan ready to deal with any emergency;
  • develop a preventive maintenance and housekeeping schedule;
  • have buildings inspected and maintained regularly by a licensed electrical contractor;
  • work with the local fire department and insurance company to identify any problem areas—and fix those problems; and
  • train family and employees on what to do if there is a barn fire.

“Fires in farm buildings are tragic incidents that can result in the unnecessary loss of animals and extensive property damage,” said Ontario Fire Marshal Ross Nichols.

“These devastating—and preventable—events underscore the need for owners and operators to identify and eliminate potential fire risks in all farm buildings, including barns and stables,” he stressed.

“[The] Ontario Federation of Agriculture urges all members to read and access these new resources on barn fire prevention,” said OFA president Keith Currie.

“Assessing fire risk on our farms is critical to the well-being of our livestock and our livelihoods.”

The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management tracks the fire incidents in Ontario, including barns housing livestock.

Based on OFMEM data, there are roughly 80 reported fires involving barns housing livestock, with an estimated loss of $18.5 million each year.

About 40 percent of all barn fires are caused by faulty electrical systems, which is one of the leading causes of barn fires.

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