OMAFRA REPORT: Preventing barn fires; reducing risks

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:

Did you know?

Faulty electrical systems cause approximately 40 per cent of barn fires with a determined cause, making it one of the leading known causes of barn fires.

What can you do?

Regular inspections and maintenance are key to reducing the risk of a barn fire. We recommend that you work with a professional to inspect and monitor your farm buildings.

• Have your buildings inspected and maintained regularly by a licensed electrical contractor.

• Develop a preventative maintenance and housekeeping schedule.

• Work with a professional to monitor the heat conditions of your barn using infrared technologies.

• Work with your local fire department and insurance company to identify problem areas on your farm, and fix any problem areas identified.

• Have a plan ready to deal with any emergency.

• Train your family and employees on what to do if there is a barn fire. Learn how to handle and what to do with livestock, make a list who to call during and after a fire, and establish a safe meeting point.

Visit to find helpful resources, including:

• The Reducing the Risk of Fire on Your Farm book that examines the main causes of farm building fires and what you can do to minimize risks.

• A checklist to help you assess your farm’s barn fire risk.

• A link to the Farm Fire and Emergency Sketch web page that explains step-by-step how to create a sketch for your operation.

• Our Electrical Systems in Barns Factsheet that provides information on how an electrical system can start a fire, regulations and barn electrical maintenance practices.

• Links to different inspection, monitoring and extinguishing technologies, such as FLIR heat-sensing cameras, Cole-Parmer gas detectors and the DSPA 5 aerosol generator.

• A link to Livestock Welfare’s Emergency Response web page, offering great resources on what to do with and how to handle livestock during an emergency.

• A link to Equine Guelph’s training program on livestock behaviour in emergencies and barn fire prevention tools.

Barn fires can create unique challenges for farmers, including the disposal of large volumes of deadstock. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has a regulation ( that gives you options for deadstock management. These options help to protect water quality, reduce environmental impacts and minimize biosecurity hazards, such as scavenging.

Collection of deadstock by a licensed collector is recognized as the most effective and sustainable disposal method. In emergency situations, you can apply to OMAFRA for an Emergency Authorization for the storage, disposal or transportation of deadstock. These authorizations can be used when emergency conditions exist that make it difficult for you to dispose of deadstock according to the regulation.

For more information and to suggest a different fire prevention device, technology or program that could be listed on our website, contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre (AICC) at 1-877-424-1300 or

Visit for other resources and tips for keeping a farm safe. At, you can find information on contingency deadstock planning and the regulation.