A long-discussed building code for livestock barns and other nonresidential farm buildings will take effect in Manitoba on Nov. 1, the province announced Friday.
The changes in the province’s new Farm Building Code will only affect new construction over 600 square metres, or buildings undergoing “extensive renovation,” the province said.
However, “there will be some flexibility within the regulations to allow for the construction to meet the goal of fire safety.”
Farm buildings have until now been exempt from the province’s building code, but a surge in barn fires in recent years, killing tens of thousands of animals, helped spur development of a new code.
Having codes in place will set a standard, which will make it easier for producers to get insurance, provincial Labour Minister Jennifer Howard said.
Financial losses in farm building fires have been “proportionally higher” than for fires in urban areas, the province said, noting such losses on farms totalled about $98.9 million from 1998 through 2007.
The new code, based on the Manitoba Building Code, will classify non-residential farm buildings as “light-or medium-industrial occupancies.”
Farm buildings put up to the new code will need fire stops in every 300 square metres of attic space, and must have fire alarm systems. Travel distance to an exit must be less than 30 metres.
All new buildings and major renovations covered by the new code will also need to be certified by a structural engineer.
Due to the variety of building designs, the code will allow for “equivalencies,” which would be reviewed by a Farm Building Code committee overseen by the provincial fire commissioner’s office.