Be Prepared

Electrical Fires

Improperly designed, installed, or maintained electrical systems are a common cause of farm building fires. This includes heating equipment, lighting systems, and electrical distribution (e.g. extension cords, wiring). Have a qualified electrician do regular inspections of electrical connections and equipment. Keep electrical boxes, connections and heat sources clean and free of any potential source of combustion including; feed, bedding, binder twine, birds’ nests, thick dust and cob webs, etc.

Before heating barn for arrival of chicks and after bedding is added to the barn, blow off any dust or debris off of heaters and straw chopping and spreading equipment, ensure that spark arresters are in place.

Contact your insurance agent about their policy on thermal imaging. This technology can show temperature differences in walls, equipment electrical outlets and panels, etc. and can help detect areas of concern such as, overloaded circuits, overheated grain and feed, energy/heatleaks and hidden moisture.

Getting Your Barn Ready for a Fire

Broiler and turkey manure can get hot when in storage and with the right conditions can spontaneously combust. Move smouldering manure outside, away from buildings and spread out and/or soak.

Getting Your Equipment Ready

Be sure to maintain farm machinery and check routinely for:

  • Build-up of crop residue around the engine, exhaust system, belts and chains;
  • Damaged exhaust system components;
  • Worn or badly frayed drive belts;
  • Odor of burning electrical wiring; and
  • Signs of leaking fluids, oil and fuel.

Do not block laneways to your barn with tractors and other vehicles or equipment. First responders need a clear accessall around farm buildings in most instances.


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A barn will normally become engulfed in flames within six minutes.

Bird Recovery

Poultry are sensitive to smoke inhalation as it causes irritation in the lining of their respiratory system. With high concentrations of smoke, this lining can be damaged within a few minutes and within a few hours in areas with low smoke concentration. Most animals die from smoke inhalation rather than from burning.

Birds that were not in the barn, but were close or in the barn adjacent, should be checked for smoke inhalation and injuries. Seek the advice of your veterinarian to determine if birds need to be humanely euthanized.

Layers and breeders that are unaffected by the fire may not be able to be moved to another barn or location. Depopulation by whole-barn gassing should be considered. Contact your industry representative and veterinarian for further action.

Meat chickens and turkeys may have the option of early shipping if they are close to market weight and unaffected by the fire.

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Remember human safety is the top priority. Never enter a fire-compromised structure. At no time should a fire fighter or anyone else put their own personal safety in jeopardy to save an animal from a barn or fire.