A weekly report prepared by the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). If you require further information, regarding this report, call the Elora Resource Centre at 519-846-0941. Office hours: 8:30am to 4:30pm. For technical information, call the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or visit the OMAFRA website: www.ontario.ca/omafra
10 WAYS TO REDUCE THE RISK OF BARN FIRE
This factsheet contains practical best management practices (BMPs) to assist Ontario farmers in reducing the risk of barn fires. Barn fires are devastating events for Ontario’s farming families to deal with, and the financial and emotional impacts are felt for many years. Using BMPs in the farm’s daily operations will reduce the risk of such a catastrophic event occurring.
The content for this factsheet was developed by a committee comprised of representatives from multiple sectors, including fire protection and response, insurance, university, farm and/or commodity organizations and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).
The top 10 list is intended to focus on BMPs that can be implemented by a farmer without having to make major changes to building structures or equipment.
Focus on housekeeping
Maintaining a clean and organized barn is a simple and cost-effective way to reduce the likelihood of barn fires. Practical actions like removing clutter and properly storing combustible materials can also limit the spread of a fire.
Limit the use of temporary electrical equipment
Equipment that is not hard-wired into the electrical system is considered temporary equipment. This equipment may be plugged directly into an outlet using an extension cord, or it could be powered from an external fuel source such as a standby generator. Extended use of temporary equipment can increase the chance of a fire occurring through degraded outlets and extension cords, which can be a source of ignition.
Regularly inspect and maintain permanent electrical systems
The permanent electrical system is one of the most vulnerable areas within a livestock barn. The humidity and corrosive gases generated by livestock and the storage of manure degrade the electrical system. The Electrical Safety Code has specific requirements for the installation of electrical equipment within livestock housing areas due to the humid and corrosive environment. For more information, see Section 22-204 and Bulletin 22-3-5 in the Ontario Electrical Safety Code – esasafe.com/contractors/bulletins/and the OMAFRA factsheet, Electrical Systems in Barns – omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/16-043.htm
Perform hot works safely
Hot works such as arc welding, cutting with torches or grinding are a common cause of fires, particularly inside farm buildings where combustible materials or manure gases are present.
Sparks falling into under-barn manure storages have caused explosions and fires in Ontario livestock barns. Heating sources such as torches used to thaw out water lines have also been connected to barn fires.
Participate in a risk reduction assessment with insurance or fire departments
Many insurance companies and fire departments offer on-site reviews or risk reduction assessments for farms. These visits help the operator identify potential risks and provide recommendations to address the concerns. The person conducting the risk reduction assessment will often follow a checklist of common fire-related concerns, including storage of combustibles, electrical systems and sources of heat or sparks.
Prepare and implement
a fire safety plan
A fire safety plan summarizes how an operation will prevent a fire and the response in case a fire does occur. This type of plan ensures the operation is regularly maintaining safety equipment, avoiding or reducing high risk activities and is prepared to respond to a fire.
Regularly inspect and maintain fire walls, fire separations and attic fire stops
Fire walls, fire separations and attic fire stops slow down the progression of a fire within a building and increase the time for people within the building to escape. Too often these structural components are compromised, such as by adding openings, which reduce or eliminate their effectiveness.
Regularly maintain heaters
Improperly installed or maintained heaters are a common cause of barn fires. The presence of combustible materials such as bedding, dust, etc., in the barn is a contributing factor to fires. Heaters can also be damaged if livestock have access to them.
Store and maintain motorized equipment away from livestock
Motorized equipment, such as tractors, produce significant amounts of heat, even after being turned off and stored. This heat can dry debris caught in the equipment and cause the material to ignite. In addition, motorized equipment can develop electrical/mechanical failures that provide additional sources of ignition.
For complete article and tips to reduce the risks, please see website – http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/18-013.htm