The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is urging farm owners to be proactive in reducing the risk of barn fires, after a recent string of devastating blazes in Ontario.

The latest barn fire occurred at Prikken Farm Ltd., south of London, Ontario, on Monday February 1st. It left about 100 dairy cows dead and destroyed the barn and several attached buildings, with damages estimated at $1.5 million.

OMAFRA has released the following statement:

Barn fires can cause a devastating loss of livestock and assets for owners in addition to emotional and economic hardships for families, businesses and communities.

There are best practices to follow to reduce the risk of barn fires:

  • Have a qualified professional complete assessments of all farm buildings
  • Have all electrical equipment inspected yearly by a licensed electrical contractor, including wiring, mechanical and heating systems
  • When heat lamps are required, protect the immediate area with non-combustible sheathing, keep the area around the heat lamp clear of clutter or bedding materials that could catch fire and only use heat lamps with the CSA or ULC label
  • Establish good housekeeping practices – eliminate clutter inside and outside the buildings to the risk of fire spreading
  • Be sure to check exposed electrical equipment for corroded parts and repair all damaged fixtures or equipment as soon as possible
  • Avoid storing dangerous fuels and chemicals such as gasoline, cleaning fluids or solvents inside barns
  • Ensure that all applicable regulations are followed when constructing or renovating farm buildings
  • Make sure all equipment and motors are in good working condition, and free from dust and debris
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher on hand
  • Make sure a reliable source of water is available and easily accessible by fire departments

Ontario encourages owners of farm buildings to follow these best management practices when working with livestock in farm buildings. Planning ahead to reduce risks and prevent accidents will help protect employees, family members and animals.