"What we would like to do as a group of insurance companies is something we'd like to say about building construction," said Randy Drysdale, Deputy Vice President of Damage Control and Technical Development at Farm Mutual Reinsurance, during a presentation at the annual Canadian Farm Builders Association conference recently held in Stratford, Ontario.
"What we'd like to see is a resilient design when a structure is rebuilt. What happens is often that they are built in almost the same style. Once burned, what prevents it from burning again, or what prevents it from falling again? If we can increase resilience after a disaster, we can influence how the buildings will survive in the future. "
He said there are a number of areas where things can be improved.
"We want to look for ways to make barns safer, different things we can do when they are built, or when they are repaired after a loss, even if it is a partial loss or if they are only a part Reconstruct the barn, "said Drysdale, adding that farmers, associations, government agencies and insurance companies need to work together to minimize damage and losses.
"You (builders) should think about it," what can I do to compromise the structure's ability during the planning phase? "During the construction phase, we went to some of the big buildings, and we talked to the farmers who installed fire walls and / or fire doors. If you have a structure of $ 6 million and spend $ 10,000 to $ 20,000 on a fire door, this should not be such a big deal, but we'll be pushed back a lot. "
Among other things, compartments, fire protection, fire protection, fire dampers, sprinklers and control units in the stables must be taken into account.
"The barns are really built for burning. They're organized to kindle, "said Drysdale. "There are flammable materials, wooden frames, unprotected structures that are usually too far away from the fire halls for the fire department to make a big difference."
It's not just fire, Drysdale stressed. Extreme weather conditions such as rain, snow and wind also cause damage that can cause fires or destroy barns.
"We want to look for ways to improve the ability of a structure to survive losses," Drysdale said.
"We know that you can not change things overnight, but we would like to see small steps in the construction of buildings, so that we can tell our reinsurers that we are changing these structures.
"Many mutual companies really invest in avoiding damage because we have so many losses."
As an example he spoke of a big fire in a potato barn, which resulted in a loss of $ 9 million, with the biggest damage occurring within an hour. The farmer has made significant changes to the design of the new building.
"The policyholder has spent a significant amount to go beyond the requirements of the Building Act," said Drysdale.
"I know that this will increase the cost of the building, but at some point you have to look and say that agricultural buildings have the potential to burn and possibly become uninsurable in the future. I do not say that they will be, but if there is enough fire, it will be at the point where it is too expensive to buy insurance. Our reinsurance costs increase annually and increase considerably. "
The policy holder for the potato barn has included many elastic elements in the design of the new plant.
"When it was rebuilt, the farmer installed fire doors throughout the building, set up a refractory room for the battery-powered equipment, set up tilting concrete slabs, and now has a 30-foot ceiling. He has also opted for a dual-carrier system, and he has attached hurricane bands to all carriers, "said Drysdale.
He added that there are some products on the market that can minimize the spread of fire in barns, including a Haven fire protection device.
"It will extinguish a fire in a 16 foot by 16 foot building," Drysdale explained.
"It's sitting on the rafters. What we are recommending is in all the mechanical and electrical spaces of agricultural buildings, we will say that you should install them. We will not make it compulsory here, but we will start to talk about it and we will promote it. If we can stop the fire in this mechanical space, we can save all animals, we can save all the buildings, we can save all the losses that arise. There is no one who earns money with an insurance claim. "
There is also a company that specializes in fire protection systems and installs fire extinguishers in the loft, which are connected to controls that can flood the entire loft with fire extinguishing media.
"That's the weak point in the barn, so this is another option for the future," said Drysdale.
"There is also a sprinkler system that goes into a heated little room. It's about the cost of a generator, and you can flood the entire building with a soapy solution to the rafters. "