Over 3,800 people have signed a BC SPCA petition launched on March 4 to convince a national committee to make protecting farm animals an objective of soon-to-be-updated national building and fire codes.
The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC), an independent committee established by the National Research Council of Canada, is currently in the process of updating the national codes, including a public review period that ends March 13.
Since the BC SPCA estimates that more than half a million animals have died in barn fires in Canada since 2015 — an average of 100,000 animals every year — farm animal welfare manager Melissa Speirs said they asked the CCBFC to make the protection of animals an objective in the updated codes.
“They indicated they weren’t interested in including that at this time,” Speirs said.
To demonstrate public interest, the BC SPCA launched the online petition and plans to submit the names of signatories to the CCBFC along with an official comment proposing new safety requirements, including fire suppression equipment and electrical systems “ideal for barns.”
“Electrical systems are the number one cause of barn fires, causing about 40 per cent of fires,” Speirs said. “Barns with farm animals are at higher risk of electrical fires because of a few factors, including high humidity, ammonia and rodents.”
Specifically, she said the BC SPCA is recommending that fixtures rated as “NEMA 4X” — a rating used for hazardous locations — be required in barns because they are “designed to withstand the unique barn environment.”
After the end of the public review period, she said the committee will either approve their proposed changes as they are or with revisions, or withdraw them.
Black Press Media has reached out to the CCBFC for comment.