Barn Fire Prevention

We care about the safety and well-being of you, your family, your employees and your animals. While response to a fire is important, prevention is even better. That is why we continuously work with farmers and industry to develop different ways to plan, monitor and inspect farms to reduce the potential for human and animal life or injuries and/or property loss as a result of barn fires.

Main causes of barn fires

Barn fires can be tragic events for farmers, and the loss of livestock, buildings and equipment can be devastating in many ways. Approximately 40 per cent of all barn fires are caused by faulty electrical systems, which is one of the leading causes of barn fires. Regular inspections and maintenance are key to reducing the risk of a barn fire.

What can you do?

Monitoring and inspecting your buildings and equipment can go a long way in preventing a fire on your farm.

  • Have your buildings inspected and maintained regularly by a licensed electrical contractor.
  • Develop a preventative maintenance and housekeeping schedule to reduce the risks of a fire.
  • 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. Plan what to do about livestock, who to call and establish a safe meeting point.

New technologies

There are many new technologies available today that can help you monitor and inspect your farm buildings. We haven't tested the technologies listed here, nor do we endorse any of these companies; however, the technologies are available and in use currently in Ontario and are good starting points in your research to find what could work for your operation.

  • FLIR makes a series of different cameras that can detect gas leaks and electrical hot spots.
  • There are many different methane sensors available. Do some research into what might work for you, such as Cole-Parmer gas detectors or MSA's combustible gas infrared detector.
  • When activated, the DSPA 5 aerosol generator releases an aerosol cloud to put out flames.
  • Haven Fire Suppression Safety Device is a heat-activated, dry chemical device that can control or extinguish fires.

Do you have a different fire prevention device, technology or program that could be listed here? Contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

Resources

These resources can help you determine risk areas in your operation, and provide guidance for reducing the risk of barn fires.

  • Barn fires are stressful and traumatic events for farm families. The After the Fire Checklist is a tool to help you manage the overwhelming number of decisions you may need to make in the aftermath of a fire involving livestock.
  • Reducing the Risk of Fire on Your Farm examines the main causes of farm building fires and what you can do to minimize risks.
  • Barn Fires - A Concern for Ontario Farmers describes the common causes of barn fires and some ways to help prevent them.
  • Use our checklist to help you assess your farm's risk for a barn fire.
  • Electrical Systems in Barns provides information on how an electrical system can start a fire, regulations and barn electrical maintenance practices.
  • Use our Agricultural Information Atlas to develop a sketch of your farm showing farm features like fire risk areas, utility shut-off points, water sources, livestock barns and access routes for emergency vehicles. This sketch can be shared with local first responders to have on-hand in case of an emergency. Visit the Farm Fire and Emergency Sketch web page for guidance on how to create one for your operation.
  • Silo and Hay Mow Fires on Your Farm and Spontaneous Combustion and Hay Fires explain how you can reduce the risk of silage and hay fires caused by spontaneous combustion.
  • Methane Gas in Hog Barns and Hazardous Gases on Agricultural Operations discuss manure gas build-up and how you can manage the dangers.
  • Livestock Welfare's Emergency Response web page has great resources, such as how to handle livestock during an emergency, how to manage loose and scared livestock, and what to do when a barn fire involves animals.
  • Equine Guelph has a fantastic training program on livestock behaviour in emergencies and online barn fire prevention tools.
  • FLIR Lending Program through Farm & Food Care Ontario.
  • 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. Visit ontario.ca/deadstock for more information.

Disclaimer

This web page is intended for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide engineering, legal or other advice. OMAFRA does not guarantee absolute accuracy or sufficiency of subject material, nor can we accept responsibility for health and safety recommendations that may have been omitted. We recommend that you consult with your own professional engineer or lawyer as applicable to determine the best course of action or legal requirements applicable to your farm.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 14 November 2016
Last Reviewed: 14 November 2016