Top 10 Ways to Help Prevent Barn Fires
Though barn fires are a year-round concern, most barn fires occur in the winter.
The colder months are generally the time when feed and bedding storage is
greatest, electricity use is high, and equipment repairs and upgrades are made.
It is an important time to be extra vigilant. When it comes to barn fires,
prevention is key.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), in
collaboration with representatives from fire protection and response, insurance,
university, farm and commodity organizations, recommends these top 10 safety
practices to reduce the risk of fire. These practices can be done without having
to make major changes to building structures or equipment.
1. Focus on Housekeeping
Maintaining a clean and organized barn is a simple and cost-effective way to
reduce the likelihood of barn fires.
2. Limit The Use of Temporary Electrical Equipment
Extended use of temporary equipment can increase the chance of a fire
occurring through degraded outlets and extension cords.
Make sure to hardwire electrical equipment that is used regularly.
3. Regularly Inspect and Maintain Permanent Electrical Systems
The humidity and corrosive gases generated by livestock and the storage of
manure can degrade permanent electrical systems. The Electrical Safety Code
has specific requirements for the installation of electrical equipment within
livestock housing areas. For more information, see Section 22-204 and Bulletin 22-
3-5 in the Ontario Electrical Safety Code and the OMAFRA factsheet, Electrical
4. Perform Hot Works Safely
When using such things as welders and blow torches make sure to do the work in
well-ventilated areas outside buildings. If the work needs to be done inside farm
buildings, ensure the area is well ventilated, remove all combustible materials,
place non-combustible pads under the work area, and have a fire extinguisher
5. Participate in a Risk Reduction Assessment with Insurance or Fire
Many insurance companies and fire departments offer onsite reviews or risk
reduction assessments for farms. Take advantage of these opportunities to help
identify potential risks and get recommendations to address concerns.
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6. Prepare and Implement a Fire Safety Plan
A fire safety plan can help ensure a farm operation is regularly maintaining
safety equipment, avoiding or reducing high risk activities and is prepared to
respond to a fire.
7. Regularly Inspect and Maintain Fire Walls, Fire Separations and Attic Fire
Fire walls, fire separations and attic fire stops can slow down the progression of a
fire within a building and increase the time for people to escape.
8. Regularly Maintain Heaters
Ensure heaters are properly installed, regularly maintained, and suspended well
above combustibles or where they cannot be damaged by livestock.
9. Store and Maintain Motorized Equipment Away From Livestock
Motorized equipment, such as tractors, produce significant amounts of heat,
even after being turned off and stored. This heat can dry debris caught in the
equipment and cause the material to ignite. In addition, motorized equipment
can develop electrical/mechanical failures that provide additional sources of
10. Store Combustibles in a Designated Location Away From Livestock
Combustibles such as straw or oil provide the fuel to feed a fire. Isolating these
materials in a separate area reduces the risk of a fire spreading throughout the
Courtesy of OMAFRA