Protect Quebec's Farmed Animals From Barn Fires
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For several years now, the province of Québec has seen a record number of animals die in barn fires. Such tragedies are not new, however this phenomenon has reached frightening proportions as shown in the census conducted by the Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Farm Animals (CETFA) for the 2015-2018 period.
The potential cause of these fires includes deficient and obsolete electrical installations, flammable construction materials, storage of flammable materials or equipment together with the animals, and placement of tanks of explosive substances too close to farm buildings. The resulting death toll calls upon us to set effective safety standards to prevent the burning and destruction of agricultural buildings and the farmed animals confined within them.
The ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec sets out that each municipality establishes its own fire safety standards regarding farm buildings based on the National Fire Code of Canada (NFC 2015), the National Farm Building Code of Canada (NFBC 1995), the Building Code (C.S.Q., B-1.1, r.0.01.01), the Security Code (C.S.Q.,B-1.1, r.0.01.01.1), the Québec Petroleum Products Act (C. S.Q., Chapter P-30.01) and Fire Safety Cover Plans. Even though there are farm building inspections carried out by the Fire Services of each municipality, analysis of the various codes, standards and regulations demonstrate many shortcomings and insufficient measures which result in farmed animals being exposed to undue risks and horrific deaths when fire occurs.
Several minimal safety measures and essential recommendations are needed in order to improve the safety of farmed animals, including the following:
- Build and equip farm buildings with non-combustible materials;
- Store all flammable materials that are not currently used in a separate building from where farmed animals are housed;
- Isolate the electrical installations of farm buildings with firewalls where farmed animals are housed;
- Inspect and carry out annual maintenance of oil reservoirs, generators, electrical systems, heating systems, propane and natural gas systems, storage areas, hazardous materials, portable fire extinguishers, plastic insulators, structural integrity exits, etc;
- Install smoke and heat detectors connected to a fire security service as well as to the farm building owner’s house;
- Install sprinklers and fire extinguisher systems at appropriate intervals within the building;
- Install fire-hydrants adjacent to the farm building where livestock animals are kept; and
- Create action plans in collaboration with Fire Services and regional and municipal veterinarian services. Such protocols must include measures regarding the animals' evacuation as quickly and effectively as possible in case of fire, in addition to providing emergency treatment (analgesia, euthanasia, etc).
As the organization responsible for animals’ security and well-being, it is MAPAQ’s duty to ensure that farmed animals are housed in suitable, safe and secure conditions.
Therefore, we request that MAPAQ:
- Support and submit the above stated recommendations to those responsible for the development of fire safety standards regarding farm buildings, namely municipalities and insurance companies; and
- Assist animal producers in the implementation of these recommendations.
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