Barn fires are a problem for Ontario farmers, with an average of 166 barn fire incidents and an average annual loss of 28 million each year recorded between 2008 and 2014. These costs do not even take into account the loss of equipment, products or livestock which any farmer will tell you can be just as big of a loss as the structure itself.
As we evolve into larger scale farming, both the size and value of farm buildings have increased, making fires more difficult to extinguish and the cost of their damage more significant.
WHAT IS CAUSING THESE BARN FIRES?
According to the Ontario Fire Marshal, the same office who provides the statistics above, the leading causes of these preventable fires were:
- Misuse of an ignition source (i.e. gasoline)
- Mechanical/electrical failure
- A deficiency in the design and maintenance of equipment
These causes cover the 60% of determined cases. 40% of barn fires are reported as undetermined due to a total loss of the barn and contents making it impossible to determine a cause.
WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO REDUCE RISK OF BARN FIRE?
- KEEP ELECTRICAL SERVICE PANEL SEPARATE FROM LIVESTOCK AREAS
Since 2008, the Electrical Safety Authority requires all electrical equipment installed in livestock areas to meet certain standards related to high humidity environments.
However what they really recommend as best practice is to construct a separate electrical/mechanical room to house electrical service panels and other similar equipment in order to:
A.Protect equipment from corrosive humid barn air
B. Allow equipment to be housed in a fire proofed area
2. MAINTAIN EQUIPMENT
All items that appear questionable should be repaired or replaced immediately. Having a licensed electrician perform regular inspections of your buildings and equipment is the best way to find potentially unsafe deterioration of equipment. Erie Mutual is able to inspect electrical equipment using infrared cameras to spot areas of overheating as one way to find potential issues.
3. STAY TIDY
An ignited fire with nothing to feed on will die a quick death, but when it has a source of fuel it will grow rapidly. Make sure you are doing regular checks in and around your buildings to remove any combustible materials.
- Remove piles of rubbish. Keep fuel stored safely away from buildings.Keep vegetation short and away from buildings.
What ends up being bad for farmers is bad for all of us. Please help spread the word about what we can all do to help reduce the number of barn fires in Ontario.
Read our previous article in the series to see 3 other ways to reduce barn fire risk.
Erie Mutual Insurance proudly serves the commercial insurance, farm insurance, home insurance and auto insurance needs of members throughout Southern Ontario including Haldimand, Niagara and Hamilton.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.
Please contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.