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Animal protection groups call for revisions to building code for buildings that house livestock.

February 4, 2009. The Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada (AAEVPC) and the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA) are calling for changes to the National Farm Building Code of Canada (NFBC). The organizations want to ensure that buildings which house farm animals are retroactively equipped with sprinklers, smoke alarms and alarms that detect ventilation failures and power outages and, that new barns be required to meet more stringent fire code standards.

“Last Tuesday’s fire in southeastern Saskatchewan that killed an unknown number of pigs in four hog barns is just another horrific illustration of the inadequacies of the existing Code”, says Liz White, the leader of Canada’s only animal and environmental protection political party. “I simply cannot imagine the screams of terrified animals trapped with no escape from the smoke and fire. And this is not an isolated incident.”

While the Saskatchewan fire is under investigation, AAEVPC and CCFA contend that most barn fires are preventable. The Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal has determined that the three primary causes of preventable fires are from mechanical/electrical failure, misuse of ignition source/ equipment and design/construction/maintenance deficiency.

According to the Code, only farm buildings with high humanoccupancy(greater than one person per 40 square meters) are required to be fitted with sprinklers and smoke alarms.

A Winnipeg Free Press article on January 02, 2009 reported that last year seven barn fires in Manitoba killed more than30 000 pigs - about eight times more than the previous year. In 2007 more than3 500 pigs died in six fires.

Large scale intensive farm practices mean that more animals are housed in small spaces, therefore fire prevention and animal evacuation are paramount to ensuring the health and well-being of animals.

“These barns are nothing more than firetraps, the Code needs to change” says Stephanie Brown, a spokesperson for CCFA. The coalition is comprised of several animal protection and welfare groups across Canada. “Too many intensive livestock operations have become blazing infernos, and that needs to stop,” Brown concludes.

For more information please contact:

Liz White, 416-462-9541 ex 23 (o) or 416-809-4371(c); or Stephanie Brown, 416-920-4984.

To express your concern about barn fires, print this letter (PDF) to the federal Standing Committee on Fire Protection, sign and mail.