Barn fires prompt fire officials to call for changes
Three barn fires in about ten days has fire officials renewing a calls for changes to the farm building code. The current code is over 20 years and hasn’t been updated since 1995.
Pert East & West Fire Chief Bill Hunter, has been promoting farm fire safety since the summer. He says much has changed in agriculture over the last 20 years and so should fire codes.
“Farms are getting much more sophisticated, they have computerized equipment, very specialized very expensive equipment and livestock that is certainly very valuable.”
Last night Halton Hills fire department responded to a barn fire in Georgetown, where two cows were killed. On Thursday a private barn in Mount Forest caught fire killing at least a dozen horses, while 43 race horses died earlier this month at Classy Lane Stables south of Guelph.
Chief Hunter says that if someone in the city of Waterloo wanted to build a new structure they would face much stricter codes than a farmer out in rural Ontario.
“If they wanted to build a 100 x 300 foot warehouse its built to the Ontario building code... if a farmer wanted to build the exact same size farm it falls under the farm building code which is a lot less stringent.”
In Perth East about 70 percent of fire loss is somehow related to farms.
Hunter says fire officials and farmers need to sit down and talk. “We need to make these buildings safer and fire resistant``
In the wake of the recent fires, the University of Guelph's horse centre is issuing a plea to barn owners. Equine Guelph's managing director, Gayle Ecker, says fire safety is often overlooked in barns and she's urging owners to make a thorough check of every barn with a fire safety officer as soon as possible.
North Huron Fire Chief David Sparling says that they are more than willing to consult with farmers over potential fire hazards.
“If we can do anything to assist farmers make sure their buildings are fire safe, we'd be very happy to do so.”
While many newer farms are equipped with alarms and sprinkler systems, fire officials say it’s not mandatory.