Emergency systems

This past week I spent several days working with a production system doing grower meetings. One of the topics of discussion was emergency plans for wean-finish facilities and insurance coverage of these facilities.


My presentation included a section on maintenance and documentation of emergency systems. In the past 2 years, I have unfortunately become involved in several cases of pig deaths due to ventilation failures. I can’t stress enough that everyone involved needs to have a thorough understanding of the coverage inclusions and exclusions. When there is a sudden death event and hundreds of pigs die, the monetary loss can be huge.


Whether your facilities have on-site stand-by generators, emergency drop curtains or other emergency devices, routine testing and documentation of the testing is a must. For sites with on-site generators, logging of the generator hours (assuming the generator has a weekly auto-start feature) is not sufficient as it only verifies that the generator has run. On a regular basis (week, bi-weekly, monthly) the system needs to be tested to ensure that the automatic transfer switch works properly and properly disconnects from the electric supply grid and transfers to the generator.


For facilities with automatic curtain drops, these need to be tested on a routine basis, but probably less frequent than generator transfer switches. In all cases, keep a written log which verifies the results of the test, the date of the test and the signature/initials of the person doing the test. In the event of a failure, this log becomes important evidence for an insurance claim that the emergency system was maintained and functional. This routine testing and log may also qualify the site for a reduced insurance rate since there is now a plan for maintenance of the emergency system which reduces the risk to the insurance underwriter of a claim.


Emergency notification systems also need to be tested. Be sure the emergency notification system includes a long distance or cell phone number. I’m aware of a loss where the pig owners claim the emergency notification device malfunctioned. However, there was no way to verify this claim as all of the phone numbers were local numbers. Having a cell phone and/or long distance number in the calling directory increases the chance that there will be a record of that number answering the call.


All of the above sound relatively simple, but it continues to amaze me at how many facilities I work with that have emergency curtain drops disconnected. Many of the owners of these sites respond that they live on-site or on the same electric supply line and will know when the electricity is interrupted due to an ice storm, wind or other cause of an outage. This only works if someone is at the home site 100% of the time. The investment in pigs and facilities is too large to put it at risk from something as simple as not being there when an outage occurs.

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