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Barn Fire Prevention

Jan 03, 2019

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Barn Fire Prevention
  • Main causes of barn fires
  • What can you do?
  • New technologies
  • Resources
We care about the safety and well-being of you, your family, your employees and your animals. While response to a fire is important, prevention is even better. That is why we continuously work with farmers and industry to develop different ways to plan, monitor and inspect farms to reduce the potential for human and animal life or injuries and/or property loss as a result of barn fires.
Main causes of barn fires
Barn fires can be tragic events for farmers, and the loss of livestock, buildings and equipment can be devastating in many ways. Approximately 40 per cent of all barn fires are caused by faulty electrical systems, which is one of the leading causes of barn fires. Regular inspections and maintenance are key to reducing the risk of a barn fire.
What can you do?
Monitoring and inspecting your buildings and equipment can go a long way in preventing a fire on your farm.
  • Have your buildings inspected and maintained regularly by a licensed electrical contractor.
  • Develop a preventative maintenance and housekeeping schedule to reduce the risks of a fire.
  • Monitor the heat conditions of your barn using infrared technologies.
  • Work with your local fire department and insurance company to identify problem areas on your farm, and fix any problem areas identified.
  • Have a plan ready to deal with any emergency.
  • Ensure you have an adequate number of fire extinguishers, and that they are in good working order.
  • Train your family and employees on what to do if there is a barn fire. Plan what to do about livestock, who to call and establish a safe meeting point.
Barn Fire Prevention: Housekeeping Tips - NEW
Barn Fire Prevention: Electrical Safety Tips - NEW
Barn Fire Prevention: Hot Works Safety Tips - NEW
New technologies
There are many new technologies available today that can help you monitor and inspect your farm buildings. We haven't tested the technologies listed here, nor do we endorse any of these companies; however, the technologies are available and in use currently in Ontario and are good starting points in your research to find what could work for your operation.
  • FLIR makes a series of different cameras that can detect gas leaks and electrical hot spots.
  • There are many different methane sensors available. Do some research into what might work for you, such as Cole-Parmer gas detectors or MSA's combustible gas infrared detector.
Do you have a different fire prevention device, technology or program that could be listed here? Contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or
These resources can help you determine risk areas in your operation, and provide guidance for reducing the risk of barn fires.
  • Barn fires are stressful and traumatic events for farm families. The After the Fire Checklist is a tool to help you manage the overwhelming number of decisions you may need to make in the aftermath of a fire involving livestock.
  • Electrical Systems in Barns provides information on how an electrical system can start a fire, regulations and barn electrical maintenance practices.
  • Use our Agricultural Information Atlas to develop a sketch of your farm showing farm features like fire risk areas, utility shut-off points, water sources, livestock barns and access routes for emergency vehicles. This sketch can be shared with local first responders to have on-hand in case of an emergency. Visit the Farm Fire and Emergency Sketch web page for guidance on how to create one for your operation.
  • Livestock Welfare's Emergency Response web page has great resources, such as how to handle livestock during an emergency, how to manage loose and scared livestock, and what to do when a barn fire involves animals.
  • Equine Guelph has a fantastic training program on livestock behaviour in emergencies and online barn fire prevention tools.
  • Barn fires can create unique challenges for farmers, including the disposal of large volumes of deadstock. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has a regulation that gives you options for deadstock management. These options help to protect water quality, reduce environmental impacts and minimize biosecurity hazards, such as scavenging. Visit for more information.