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Department targets farms for fire prevention

Members of the Perth East Fire Department in Ontario hope a new fire-prevention program targeting farmers will help reduce property loss in their community, and that other departments in Canada will follow their lead.

In April, Perth East unveiled a program called Building A Farm Fire Safe Community, or FFSC. The program is centred on a self-assessment form for farm owners and operators that is filled out electronically and sent to the department for review. If there are any red flags – such as open-air burning locations near buildings or electrical outlets without proper grounding – says Perth East Fire Chief Bill Hunter, the department will contact the individual and arrange a consultation.

Hunter said the program became a priority after a recent department report showed close to 70 per cent of value lost in the municipality over the past five years was on farms.

“We’re talking close to $10 million,” Hunter said.

Tanya Bettridge, an admin assistant with the department in charge of public education, was a lead on the FFSC project and said the process began with a search for sponsorship.

“Everything starts with your goals . . . and who shares those goals,” she said. The aim was to reduce property loss, so Bettridge approached insurance companies, all of which eagerly agreed to sponsorship.

The FFSC program is sent out to the community through mail outs and promoted through social media. The promotion campaign will soon be bolstered by a video series to be shot this summer by a local filmmaker.

Bettridge said another goal for Perth East was designing the farm fire-safety program in a way that allows departments across Canada to modify and use the material in their own jurisdictions. The only request, she said, is that departments continue to honour the sponsors.

Find out more about the farm fire safety program at

May 27, 2015 
By Maria Church

A barn burns on a farm in Perth East

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