Fire Safety on the Farm

The Truth About Fire Safety on the Farm

October 25, 2021


Farm buildings are much more susceptible to the risk of fire, and farmers and their families should always be sure that they have the most up-to-date knowhow on fire safety and how to prevent barn fires. Consider this: farm buildings tend to contain ample amounts of supplies for fuel, heat, and oxygen. These buildings contain lots of dry hay, grain, and straw, and may see a lot of sunlight, open flames, or gasses. To ensure the safety of their property, family, and animals, farmers should know the following statistics:

Statistics you should know,

  • The fatalities and fire death rates in Ontario in 2019 were around 67. Many of these are on farms.
  • The three major elements of fire consist of air, heat, and fuel.
  • Each year, hundreds of thousands of livestock animals are lost to barn fires.
  • It takes 500 gallons of water per minute to fight a hay fire consisting of 250 bales.
  • Ontario sees the second highest rate of barn fires, following closely after Quebec. Ontario averages around 121 reported fires per year.

The major causes of Canadian barn fires:

Farms are particularly exposed regions for barn fires, due to the presence of the following causes:

  • Electrical problems – including wiring and panels
  • Lightning
  • Smoking
  • Extension cords
  • Heaters and electrical appliances
  • Dust and clutter in the barn
  • The presence of fire accelerators – such as gasoline, oil, kerosene, and aerosol cans
  • Hay and straw storage
  • Motors (i.e. running tractor)

See the video below “More At Stake Than The Barn” for the causes and consequences of barn fires.

Steps to follow in the event of a barn fire:

Keep in mind the following steps in the event of a barn fire:

  1. Get everyone out of the building
  2. Call 911 and give as much information as you can, including:
    1. Your full name and the address of your farm
    2. If anyone was injured or is in immediate danger
    3. The number and type of livestock or crops that may have been damaged or destroyed
    4. Identify the type of building (barn, driving shed, silo, etc)
    5. Disclose any hazardous materials that are stored in the building
  3. Evacuate livestock contained in areas of the building that are not on fire
  4. Clear the path – remove vehicles, equipment or any other objects that will obstruct emergency services from getting to your property and buildings
  5. Obey the fire department’s instructions during and after the fire

The failure to plan is planning to fail

Contacting your fire department and requesting a fire inspection is the first step to creating a farm fire prevention plan. A plan that is well thought out, frequently reviewed, and often practiced can save lives, livestock and livelihood.

Some things to think about when developing your fire prevention plan are the,

  1. Placement and identified location of:
    1. Fire extinguishers and exits
    2. Smoke alarms and the sprinkler system
    3. Water resources
    4. Telephones and intercom systems
  2. Floor plans and blueprints of all buildings, structures, and property
  3. Storage and identified location of:
    1. Hazardous or flammable materials
    2. Vehicles, machinery and gas or diesel-powered equipment
    3. Aerosol sprays
  4. Escape routes and procedures
  5. Animal evacuation routes and procedures
  6. Electrical, mechanical and structural inspection schedule
  7. Maintenance and cleaning checklist and schedule

If you would like a more detailed document to learn more about how you can reduce the chance of fire on your farm, please download the document below titled “Reducing The Risk of Fire on your Farm.” Produced by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

Several our Farm Insurance companies provide inspection services as part of their service plan, to help reduce the chance of a fire destroying one of your farm structures.

If you have any questions about your farm fire insurance policy, please contact our office at 1-888-298-7343. One of our experts would be happy to do a free review of your coverage and your farm protection plan.