Why Barn Fire Safety Needs to Be Taken More Seriously

Why Barn Fire Safety Needs to Be Taken More Seriously
February 3, 2016 -

When we think of "fire safety" we typically think of protecting people and property from the devastating effects of fire. However, the recent string of deadly barn fires across Ontario has been a harsh reminder that we need to be putting a larger focus on protecting animals, as well.

  • On January 4th, firefighters from several communities were called in to fight a fire at Classy Lanes Stables, a prominent horse training facility. In total, 39 standardbred horses, one thoroughbred horse, and three ponies perished in the fire. According to their GoFundMe page, the preliminary cost of the damage is estimated to be between $4 and $6 million. The community is saying this fire is one of the most financially and emotionally devastating experiences they have ever seen.

  • Less than two weeks later and just 45 minutes away, another fire claimed the lives of 12 Arabian stallions at a family farm in Mount Forest. For more than three decades, owners Doris and Rob Woolner dedicated their lives to raising and training these horses. The cause is still under investigation.

  • Just days later on January 17th, 500 goats and 30 cattle perished after a barn fire broke out at a farm outside of London, Ontario. When firefighters arrived on the scene at 6 a.m., they found the building completely engulfed in flames. While there were fortunately no human injuries, the damages are estimated at more than $2 million.

  • The latest in this string of tragedies came on January 19th, when more than 2,000 pigs were killed in a barn fire in Middlesex County. The fire broke out around 3 a.m. in the town of Parkhill, Ontario.

What's the common factor in most of these fires? Fire sprinklers and other life-saving fire protection systems were not present. Under the current Ontario Fire Code, barns are not required to have sprinkler systems or smoke detectors. In wake of these tragic incidents, people across the nation are calling for improved fire safety measures in order to protect the wellbeing of animals. We can only hope that this string of tragedies can begin to foster dialogue about this important topic and encourage every property owner to install fire sprinklers.

As Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA, explained, "While it's impossible to say whether or not sprinklers would have prevented such massive losses, it's reasonable to assume sprinklers would have slowed the fires, giving fire services more time to quench the flames and allowing more animals to escape to safety."

To learn more about rural fire safety and how to reduce the risks for barn fires, click here!

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