Skip to content

Commentary: Barn fire discussion worthwhile

MVT stock Dan Singleton mug
Dan Singleton is an editor with the Mountain View Albertan. File photo

Calls to make fire prevention and protection systems mandatory for livestock barns in Alberta and across Canada is sure to spark public discussion going forward.

The Humane Society of Canada released a report recenty detailing the lack of mandatory safety measures for barns and how such measures could prevent farm animal deaths and protect people at the same time.

Whether the agriculture industry and governments at the provincial and federal levels are prepared to move forward with the recommended changes remains to be seen.

What is known is that if such measures would help better protect farm families and firefighters who respond to barn fires then they should at the very least be considered.

The Humane Society says over the past five years at least 740,000 farm animals have died in barn fires in Canada.

“It is unacceptable that the animal agriculture industry is not required to better protect animals from dying such horrific deaths,” says Riana Topan, farm animal welfare campaign manager for the society.

“We urge building and fire code officials to reduce the risk of barn fires by amending our national construction model codes to require that farms have basic safety features, such as sprinklers and industrial-grade smoke detectors.”

The society says such equipment will not only better protect farm animals but could also reduce human injury and death.

The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes is currently preparing to publish the 2020 editions of the National Building Code and National Fire Code.

“These model codes will include farm building requirements related to fire protection, structural design and dangerous goods, she said, noting that changes will not, however, include requirements aimed at protecting farm animals.

The society says livestock barn fires have cost producers at least $165 million over the past five years.

Making fire prevention measures mandatory for livestock barns would no doubt add costs to farm and ranch operations.

Whether those new costs would be offset by the potential increased protection for farm family members and first responders remains to be decided.

Dan Singleton is an editor with the Mountain View Albertan.