Friday, January 2, 2009

Poor little Porky and Miss Piggy too

Now where have I seen this story before? Oh yeah. Here it is (see below). Six months later and still nothing. You better get on that Fire Commissionner.

Hog barn blaze the last straw
Winnipeg Free Press
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Byline: Lindsey Wiebe

Manitoba's fire commissioner says the province will finally move ahead with plans to develop farm building safety codes, on the heels of a hog barn blaze that killed 6,500 pigs in the Rural Municipality of La Broquerie Wednesday.

"There's now finally an agreement by all parties involved that we do need to have something ... some type of building regulation," said provincial fire commissioner Doug Popowich.

Animal advocates have long called for building codes to apply to farm buildings, most of which are not required to have safety measures like sprinklers or smoke detectors. The province has discussed changing the rules in the past, but never went forward with plans.

Wednesday's fire at the Maple Leaf Agri-Farms Seine River sow operation was the third hog barn blaze this year, killing about 3,000 sows and 3,500 piglets, said Maple Leaf spokeswoman Jeanette Jones.

She said the barn had a digital alarm to monitor temperature changes, which went off at around 3:30 a.m. The barn manager got to the scene half an hour later, around the time a passing feed-truck driver called 911.

"By the time the barn manager did arrive on-site, it was very well entrenched and the barn was engulfed in flames," Jones said.

The barn was located roughly eight kilometres east of the community of Zhoda, south of Steinbach.

By mid-afternoon, fire crews from La Broquerie and Vita had the blaze under control, said La Broquerie fire chief Alain Nadeau, who described the barn as "a total loss."

Jones could not say whether there were sprinklers in the barn. She said no injuries were reported and no employees were on-site at the time of the fire.

The cause has yet to be determined.

The year is less than half over, but 2008 already has the highest number of livestock fatalities from hog barn fires in recent years. Nearly 28,000 hogs died in three barn fires this year, compared with 3,700 hogs last year.

The Maple Leaf barn fire is the second in less than a month in the R.M. of La Broquerie. A fire at the end of May destroyed two barns at the Hytek-owned Silverado Barns, seven kilometres south of Sarto, killing thousands of hogs and in April, roughly 8,700 pigs died in a fire at the Netley Hutterite Colony.

Popowich said the lack of a building code for barns goes back to the 1970s, when the definition of a farm building was based on smaller family farms.

"These are now industries," he said. "They're no longer the typical family farm building."

Popowich said he expects consultations to start in the coming months. "The whole process will take a year, by the time it's put together," he said.

Former Winnipeg Humane Society executive director Vicki Burns said advocates have been pushing for farm building codes for at least six years.

"It's way past the time that we should really be requiring some kind of fire code for these large barns," she said.

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