According to locals, it’s one of the worst agricultural fires in many years in Saskatchewan, Canada. A raging fire burned a pig barn to the ground on Mar. 31. That barn housed 3,500 piglets, aged three to 10 weeks. They never had a chance. Every one of them perished.
This is the tragic and terrifying fate that hundreds of thousands of factory farmed animals experience every year.
“There was just too much smoke,” Fire Chief Barry Hooper told CBC News. “Pretty well the whole building was involved in smoke and fire. You’re pretty limited what you can do with the resources out there.”
The complex, Big Sky Farms, is owned by Olymel, the second largest pig producer in Canada. It operates there under the name OlySky. According to reports, despite losing 3,500 piglets, this incident will not affect OlySky’s pig production in the Saskatchewan and Manitoba area.
OlySky says it has 41,000 sows working away to produce more piglets to feed the world’s demand for bacon and ham. Those 3,500 lost piglets were a drop in the bucket compared to the one million piglets that sows are breeding for the company every year in that area alone.
OlySky has a heart, though, or wants the world to believe it does. In a news release it said it was “saddened by the loss of the 3,500 pigs.”¯ Was all that sadness about the horrific way those innocent animals died, or about financial loss the pigs represented? OlySky is a large-scale farmed animal business, so don’t wonder about the answer to that question for too long.
Hundreds of Thousands of Confined Farmed Animals Die in Fires Every Year
We don’t see it often on the evening news, but every year in Canada and the United States, structural fires claim the lives of countless of helpless animals. Recent instances include:
Major structural fires on factory farms happen all the time. Unless you’re looking for instances of it in the news, though, you won’t necessarily realize how common these tragic conflagrations are.
The vast majority of these livestock casualties are pigs and poultry, because these animals are typically jam-packed into close quarters to maximize use of the available space.
An unfortunate combination of factors make livestock barn fires so common and so devastating. Livestock breeding facilities are rural, which means response time for firefighters is much longer than we’re used to in populated areas. Many of these fires happen at night, meaning they’re not discovered until the flames have already engulfed the structure.
It takes a mere three to four minutes to fill a barn with smoke when a fire starts. The whole structure will be engulfed within six minutes.
Here‘s Something You Can Do to Help These Animals
In the United States, there is currently no requirement for animal housing facilities dedicated to confined farmed animals to be equipped with sprinklers and smoke control systems. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in 2012 voted to include an amendment to its 150 Standard for Fire & Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities to require this type of protection for newly constructed facilities.
When a coalition of Big Agriculture interests appealed the amendment because of its expense, unfortunately, the proposal was dropped by the NFPA’s Animal Housing Facilities Committee from the 2013 edition of the code, pending further research.
“When caught in a fire, animals don’t understand why they can’t breathe or why they are in such agony,” said Joe Scibetta, a NFPA Technical Committee member who helped draft the amendment. “They do, however, perceive and are conscious of the terrible sensations of burning, suffocation, and pain.”
There’s still time to turn this situation around. The NFPA is accepting public comment on the amendment through May 16, 2014. Care2 will make it easy for you to submit a comment. Just sign this petition and we will forward it before the deadline to the NFPA.
Every comment urging adoption of this amendment will help.
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