With so many recent headline-grabbing barn fires, if you were to think there was a barn fire almost every second day in Ontario, you’d be right.
The Office of the Fire Marshall — which released its 2014 statistics last month — says there were 150 barn fires in Ontario in 2014, or one every 2.4 days. The fires caused an estimated $28.4 million in damages, an average of $174,233 per fire. There were no fatalities and just nine injuries.
We most often hear about the dramatic fires, such as the more than 2,000 pigs that died in a barn fire near London on Jan. 19, and 500 goats and 30 cattle that died in a London-area fire on Jan. 17. A barn fire also killed almost 200 pigs near Stratford on Jan. 23.
But the most common fires that kill livestock involve horses. In fact, 43 horses were killed in a Guelph-area barn fire on Jan. 4.
Thankfully, there are fewer barn fires than there used to be. From 2004 to 2008, there were, on average, about 211 barn fires each year. From 2009 to 2014, that number decreased to 163 annually, with a low of 136 barn fires in 2012.
Of the 2014 fires, the latest year for available statistics, 82 barn fires were equipment or produce barns and 68 barns housed livestock.
In 50 per cent of the cases, the cause of the barn fire is never determined. The most common known cause is equipment failure. Here are the main causes:
• 25.3 per cent caused by mechanical/electrical failure;
• 9.3 per cent caused by misuse of ignition source (referring to numerous causes including careless smoking; using open flame tools; malfunctions in appliances, lighting, chimneys; cooking equipment, electrical distribution equipment, and processing equipment; and exposure to another fire)
• 4.7 per cent caused by other unintentional
• 4 per cent caused by arson
• 3.3 per cent caused by other
• 2 per cent caused by design/construction/maintenance deficiency
• 0.7 per cent caused by children playing
• 0.7 per cent caused by vandalism
There are no Ontario regulations requiring fire alarms or sprinklers in barns.