In the wake of terrible tragedy SWOX firefighters have partnered with Sprucehaven Farm to educate others about barn fire prevention on May 19th

In the wake of terrible tragedy SWOX firefighters have partnered with Sprucehaven Farm to educate others about barn fire prevention on May 19th
Woodstock Sentinel-Review

It was heartbreaking to hear of the deaths of so many fine animals at one time.

A fire that ripped through a barn in January 2016 at Classy Lanes Stables claimed the lives of 43 race horses. The cause of the Puslinch Township blaze was later determined to be electrical failure.

But the tragedy was also a wake-up call for local farmers and barn owners, who feared it could possibly happen to them one day.

“As equine barn owners we were concerned,” explained Grant Plank of his stables in Mount Elgin. “We have taken a number of steps to improve fire prevention potential on our property.”

Plank and his wife Linda, both retired CAMI employees, are the owners of Sprucehaven Farm, which dates back to the 1860’s. Home to 24 horses, they regularly host events and competitions for the equine community.

The farm recently had a pre-incident inspection by the South-West Oxford fire department where firefighters familiarized themselves with the barn, offered advice and even learned how to lead the horses.

“It was so that if they ever had to respond to an emergency here they would be already familiar with the facility,” Plank said.

In partnership with the South-West Oxford Fire and Emergency Services on Saturday, May 19, Sprucehaven Farm is hosting an interactive session, which includes fire safety and prevention, pre-incident planning, fire extinguisher awareness and blackout in the barn area.

Facilitating the event will be local firefighter and barn fire prevention expert Troy Moffat, who was one of Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario investigators on the Classy Lane fire.

SWOX fire Chief Jeff VanRybroeck said since 2016 the department has been focusing on promoting barn-fire prevention across the region, starting with horse farms.

Firefighters, he said, responded to about eight barn fires in 2016 and four or five in 2017. So far there haven’t been any this year and they want to keep it that way.

VanRybroeck said he hopes to reach out to as many farmers and barn owners in the region as they can to provide suggestions and pre-plans “to better understand how to protect their livestock and assets.”

“We are more than happy to come to their property,” he said.

Local barn owners can email firechief@swox.org to book a time for a pre-incident planning session.

If you go:

What: Barn-fire prevention session

When: 9 to 11 a.m. on May 19

Where: Sprucehaven Farm, 343279 Ebenezer Rd., Mount Elgin, Ontario

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