In an effort to reduce the risk of barn fires across Ontario, the provincial government has produced a new series of resources for local farmers on the ministry's website.
The updated section on the website features new videos and a fact sheet, along with safety guidelines on how to prepare for and prevent barn fires in farm buildings, especially during the winter months, when barn fires most often occur.
“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,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, in a news release.
“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.”
According to The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management, which tracks all fire incidents, each year barn fires are responsible for an estimated $18.5 in losses. Of that, approximately 40 percent of barn fires are caused by faulty electrical systems, making them the leading cause of barn fires.
Twenty-four barn fires in Ontario involved loss to livestock last year, compared to 15 in 2017, and 22 in 2016.
“Fires in farm buildings are tragic incidents that can result in the unnecessary loss of animals and extensive property damage,” said Ross Nichols, fire marshal and chief of OFMEM, in the release.
“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.”
The new resources feature videos about good housekeeping practices as well as safety practices regarding electrical equipment and performing welding, grinding and torching.
“Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) urges all members to read and access these new resources on barn fire prevention,” said Keith Currie, president of OFA, in the release.
“Assessing fire risk on our farms is critical to the wellbeing of our livestock and our livelihoods.”
To see the resources on best safety practices, visit Ontario.ca/preventfarmfires.