Puslinch fire crew to set barn on fire to learn about blazes

Puslinch fire crews will burn a barn on Friday for research and educational purposes. It's an 'extremely rare' chance to learn, fire officials say.

Chief fire prevention officer seeks better understanding of barn fires after devastating blaze

Watch firefighters deliberately set fire to a barn


5 years ago
Watch firefighters deliberately set fire to a barn to learn about how to better fight barn fires. 1:52

Puslinch fire officials are ready to take advantage of a rare opportunity to burn a barn for research and educational purposes. 

The department has been granted permission to start the fire by the property owner and are preparing a series of controlled burns before they engulf the barn in flames.

It is scheduled to take place Friday starting at 9:30 a.m. at 6663 Laird Rd. W. in Puslinch – so if you see a blaze in the area, fire officials say you shouldn't be alarmed and you shouldn't approach it. 

'Gain information'

"With the amount of barn fires that have happened in Ontario this year, we find this opportunity very important with respect to obtaining a barn for educational and research purposes," chief fire prevention officer Jason Benn said in a release. 

Benn's community of Puslinch has been hard hit by barn fires in recent months. In January, more than 40 racehorses – including one valued at $1,000,000 – were killed in an overnight barn blaze. 

A controlled burn at a barn in Puslinch will be supervised by fire officials and may look somewhat similar to this barn fire, which took place in Michigan. (Rod Sanford/Lansing State Journal/Associated Press)

The chief fire prevention officer said this is a great opportunity to learn from. 

"This is extremely rare," he told CBC News. "We're hoping to gain information on how fast the fire actually grows in these types of settings."

He added he has never witnessed this kind of controlled burn before in his career. 

"We're probably looking at about 35 to 40 people on site to give input and to learn and observe," Benn said, describing the area as your "typical barn setup."

'Safe location'

The first set of controlled burns will determine how quickly an item such as a lit cigarette can start a fire under certain conditions. There will also be experiments with blazes involving electrical components and linseed oil.

Then, just after noon, it will be time for the entire barn to be set ablaze. Benn said there will be trained professionals and precautions in place as that happens. 

"It should be a very good and safe location," he said. "We will have measures in place to soak down the area."

This aerial shot shows the aftermath of a barn fire in Puslinch that killed more than 40 racehorses. (David Ritchie/CBC)

This means surrounding grass will be watered and a more water will be at the ready for use. Benn also said surrounding neighbours, municipalities and emergency services have been notified about the blaze to ensure there's no panic when it begins. 

Videos will be recorded at the scene for training and educational purposes. Benn noted that because firefighters often arrive when a burn is already in progress, there is a lot to learn about what happens before they arrive. 

"If we can learn how the fire starts and how it grows in the incipient stage, I think it would give us a better understanding and a better knowledge of really and truly how fast these buildings do go up in flames."

With files from the CBC's Jackie Sharkey


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