Far fewer barn animal killed in fires last year
Far fewer animals died as a result of barn fires last year, De Volkskrant based on figures published by the Dutch Association of Insurers (VVN) on Thursday. However, it is still unclear if this decrease is linked to better fire safety measures by livestock farmers.
The reported decrease is enormous. In 2020, nearly 109,000 animals died in barn fires, whereas last year only 6,915 animals that died this way. Fire numbers also fell, from 54 to 35. Between 2012 and 2020 there were an average of 143,000 animal deaths by barn fires in the Netherlands.
The Dutch Safety Board (OVV) has been a key player in the low numbers. The OVV concluded last year that the government is not doing enough to prevent barn fires as there are hardly any laws and regulations to improve fire safety. Often, fires in barns are caused by electricity issues or faulty equipment.
Another key issue is that farmers generally have a lack of fire extinguishers, according to the Board. This problem is amplified as farms are often in remote areas which takes fire brigades longer to reach. Smoke from the fires can cause suffocation and many animal fatalities.
The Agricultural and Horticultural Organization (LTO) have said that a lot of fire safety measures have been put in place in recent years. “We are pleased that increased prevention and increased awareness among farmers in 2021 has led to fewer animal victims," the organization wrote in a press release.
Nevertheless, a spokesperson for animal welfare organization Wakker Dier warned that “it is much too early for optimism.” Instead, they recommended waiting before drawing any conclusions. “We will have to wait and see whether this decrease continues in the coming years.”
Moreover, the number of barn fires in which animals died was 11 last year. While this is low, it is not a unique case explained the Wakker Dier spokesperson. “But it's not exceptional, we saw the same number in 2012. Then 120 thousand animals died.”
The critical conclusions from the OVV are crucial to keep in mind, according to Wakker Dier and Animal Rights. “The report is only a year old, it is unlikely that farmers have made all the improvements by now,” said an Animal Rights spokesperson.