Landmark report sounds the alarm on barn fires in Canada

Newly released research exposes the horrific and preventable deaths of hundreds of thousands of farm animals

Humane Society International / Canada


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MONTREAL—Humane Society International/Canada has released a report, the first of its kind in Canada, detailing the scope of the preventable tragedy of barn fires and how the near total absence of mandatory safety measures has resulted in the deaths of countless farm animals.

Barn fires happen regularly and frequently. In the five-year period between 2015 and 2019, at least 740,000 animals died in barn fires in Canada, and this is a conservative estimate. Despite fires being a regular occurrence, the government does not require that farm buildings include sufficient fire prevention equipment and safety protocols because these structures are generally of “low-human occupancy.”

“It is unacceptable that the animal agriculture industry is not required to better protect animals from dying such horrific deaths,” stated Riana Topan, farm animal welfare campaign manager for HSI/Canada. “Just imagine the suffering of being burned alive, along with thousands of others, with no way to escape. No animal deserves to suffer so inhumanely. We urge building and fire code officials to reduce the risk of barn fires by amending our national construction model codes to require that farms have basic safety features, such as sprinklers and industrial-grade smoke detectors.”

HSI/Canada is calling on the provincial, territorial and federal governments to introduce fire prevention measures specifically for buildings that house farm animals, who are deserving of protection from fire and horrible deaths that can be avoided through basic safety protocols. Barn fires must also be prevented because they pose a risk to human life – putting both farm owners and first responders in harm’s way unnecessarily. Just last year, a fire at a large-scale facility in Manitoba claimed the lives of 27,000 chickens, while another in Quebec killed 700 pigs and sent the farm’s owner into nervous shock.

The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes, established by the National Research Council of Canada, is currently preparing to publish the 2020 editions of the National Building Code and National Fire Code. These model codes will include farm building requirements related to fire protection, structural design and dangerous goods. However, the requirements for large farm buildings are intended to safeguard humans and not animals, who are considered “property.” The updated codes will be adopted by all provinces and territories, who are responsible for regulating and enforcing construction standards.

To read and/or download the report, click here.

To arrange an interview, please call or email the media contact below.

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Media contact: Christopher Paré, director of communications, HSI/Canada – office: 514-395-2914 x 206, cell: 438-402-0643, email: cpare@hsi.org

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