There were 37 barn fires in Manitoba last year resulting in more than 7,600 animal deaths and $26.7 million in damages, statistics released by the provincial Fire Commissioner’s Office show.
No human lives were lost. However, animals lost their lives in 15 of the 37 barn fires, including 6,600 hogs and 900 dairy cows.
The number of hogs lost in 2010 is up from 2009. However, the losses in both years fall short of 2008, when 30,000 hogs were lost.
Although the Manitoba government introduced new fire code regulations for barns in 2009 in a bid to cut losses, those only apply to new facilities.
The new code requires that attic spaces have fire stops every 300 square metres, covered farm buildings must have fire alarm systems, and the travel distance to an exit must be less than 20 metres.
Kelly Funke, spokesperson for the Manitoba Pork Council, said the economic conditions in the hog industry combined with a provincial moratorium on new hog barn construction in eastern Manitoba and much of the Interlake, makes the effects of the new building code moot for now.
“Because of economics and the moratorium close to zero barns are being built,” said Funke.
Barn fires are devastating issues for producers, resulting in loss of animals and equipment, time that is needed to rebuild and income during the rebuild process.
As well as animals lost in fire, the cost of fire damages is rising. Between 1998 and 2007 the financial loss due to fires involving farm buildings was $98.9 million, but skyrocketed in 2007 and 2008 when losses were estimated to more than $32.7 million.