Farm fires are devastating and can result in the loss of produce, livestock, outbuildings and business livelihood. They are the #1 cause of property losses for farms in Ontario. Each year there are approximately 80 barn fires that cause an average of $18.5 million[i] in damages.
According to analysis by The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group electrical equipment, such as heaters, fans and solar panels, and electrical systems are the suspected cause of over 30% of large fire losses.
In order to prevent fires, The Commonwell recommends taking a few simple but important steps.
1. Avoid parking hot vehicles & motorized machinery inside buildings
After use, farm vehicles and motorized machinery can be very hot. Parking these hot vehicles inside can result in combustion when parked near combustible items such as hay, chemicals or other farm products. A Recommended prevention measure is to allow vehicles to completely cool outside, at a distance of at least 80 feet, before parking inside.
2. Avoid charging equipment batteries inside buildings within proximity of hay/straw
Battery charging is an important activity for most farms, primarily during the winter season. When charging farm equipment, it’s important that the charging operation not take place inside an outbuilding with hay/straw within proximity. Sparks are often generated, which can easily ignite nearby hay/straw.
3. Practice good pest control and housekeeping
Rodents and other pests can cause damage to electrical systems, including chewing through wiring, which is not housed in conduit. Including pest management in your housekeeping is key to keeping these risks at bay. Ensuring cobwebs and other debris are clear from electrical panels and electrical equipment is another important step for fire prevention.
4. Install a Fire Prevention System that monitors electrical components
Since electrical systems are so frequently the cause of fires, it only makes sense to have eyes on the system’s functionality and maintenance schedule. The Commonwell offers a discount on farm outbuildings where such electrical system monitoring exists.
To assist our members with this important fire prevention measure, The Commonwell has partnered with PrevTech. PrevTech Innovations is a Canadian-made prevention solution that provides 24/7 monitoring of farm electrical networks and provides feedback on the health of the electrical network through a visual dashboard and SMS alerts for urgent anomalies such as hot spots and fires. The Commonwell has partnered with PrevTech to offer a member rebate on the device installation and a discount on the insurance for the buildings where the devices are installed and monitored.
Questions about your farm insurance? Reach out to Petley-Hare today to find out how we can help you manage your farms’ risk, so you can focus on what you do best – Feeding the country.
 The Commonwell 5-year analysis, farm outbuilding related claims >$250,000 paid