Ontario agricultural and fire safety leaders unite to promote farm fire prevention

March 19, 2024

Ontario Federation of Agriculture partners with Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has announced a collaborative effort with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC).

This partnership aims to share resources and elevate fire safety and prevention awareness among Ontario farmers.

Drew Spoelstra, a farmer and President of the OFA, emphasized the importance of emergency preparedness and risk management as core priorities for the federation.

“Emergency preparedness and risk management are long-standing priorities for the OFA and our county and regional federations, and we are pleased to start working closely with Ontario’s fire chiefs to help encourage awareness about how to reduce fire risks on Ontario farms,” Spoelstra noted.

He highlighted the constant but preventable threat of fire on farms and the value of promoting resources to mitigate these risks effectively.

Addressing the heightened risk of barn fires

The collaboration comes at a crucial time, as barn fires pose a year-round concern that intensifies during colder months.

Factors such as increased condensation on cold surfaces and the corrosive effects of barn gases mixed with moisture can significantly impact electrical systems.

Additionally, the heightened use of heating equipment in winter raises the risk of ignition incidents.

Rob Grimwood, OAFC President and Deputy Chief of Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services, stressed the importance of basic yet critical fire prevention measures.

“Farm fires are tragic events, but better fire prevention starts with simple yet often overlooked basics that can minimize on-farm risks,” said Grimwood.

He also expressed enthusiasm for the shared goals between the OAFC and OFA in fire safety and prevention efforts.

Practical steps for farmers to reduce farm fire risks

The partnership emphasizes practical advice for farmers to minimize fire hazards, such as maintaining cleanliness in buildings to avoid dust and cobweb accumulation, replacing extension cords, and using thermal imaging cameras to identify potential hotspots.

Simple measures like hardwiring or using waterproof plugs and outlets are also recommended to safeguard against fire risks.

The collaborative effort aims to engage directly with farmers at key agricultural shows across the province, providing valuable information on protecting farm buildings and livestock.

According to data from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office, the province recorded 152 barn fires in 2021, resulting in damages exceeding $54 million.

FSJA Comment

The joint initiative by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs marks a proactive step towards mitigating the perennial risk of fire on farms.

By combining resources and expertise, this partnership highlights the critical nature of fire safety in agricultural settings, setting a precedent for similar collaborations in other regions.

Engaging directly with the farming community at agricultural events is a strategic approach to disseminate practical fire prevention tips effectively.

This initiative serves as a reminder of the importance of ongoing education and awareness in reducing fire-related incidents and ensuring the safety of people, animals, and property on farms.

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