Fire and Life Safety Standards for Swine Housing

Ag buildings, including swine production facilities, are generally exempt from the UBC (Uniform Building Code). Along with this exemption comes confusion as to how to rate ag buildings as it relates to various fire codes. Currently each insurance company applies standards that they think best fit the risks they have identified when insuring production agriculture facilities. Livestock facilities pose a special risk in that there is both human and animal death risk.

This lack of a common standard has caught the attention of the activists. They recognize that if they could impose a standard that increases the cost of production they could impact the industry in a significant way. This has led to the discussion some states have had regarding installation of fire sprinklers in livestock facilities as an example of this possible impact. This type discussion hasn’t been led by the majority of livestock facility insurers, but rather by those who see this as an avenue to cripple livestock production.

In response to this void, the National Fire Protection Association is working on a new standard entitled NPFA 150 “Standards on Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities”. While the final standard won’t be mandatory in most states, it will serve as a basis for insurance companies to base their insurance requirements on. It will also serve as a basis of evaluation in the event of a tragic fire that ends up in litigation of some type.

This document could have major implications on how swine units of the future are constructed or remodeled. It will not apply to existing units.

The technical committee (which includes representatives from the pork and poultry industries and the insurers of pork production facilities) is seeking comments on the current draft of the proposed standard. They especially want to hear from livestock production system risk managers, ag builders and producers.

Public input closes on May 10. You can view the draft and submit comments at the following web address after March 17:
http://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards?mode=code&code=150

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