SP launches alternative action plan to put a stop to fires in intensive pigsties and cattle stalls

1 August 2018

SP launches alternative action plan to put a stop to fires in intensive pigsties and cattle stalls

Every year hundreds of thousands of animals die in the Netherlands in the most horrible manner in fires in barns, sheds and pigsties on intensive farms. Yesterday, 2,500 pigs were burnt to death in a fire near Didam, Gelderland, in the country's east. Last year set a sad record when 20,000 pigs were killed in a fire in another Gelderland village, Erichem. The farmer had been known for several years as one who ignored the regulations. The government has now produced an action plan to stop such fires, but according to the SP it leaves far too many options, with the authorities waiting for the sector itself to solve the problems, and has shied away from taking serious measures, such as stronger norms for existing stalls and sties, while the intensive farming industry continues to cram in enormous numbers of animals, often with the most basic fire safety measures.

In the view of SP Member of Parliament Frank Futselaar, it's high time the government produced clear rules, and monitored compliance with them. “Every summer the number of fires and the number of animals they kill seems to increase,” he says. “I've had enough of these horror summers. With simple, cheap solutions we could prevent much of this. There are blocks of stalls without even a smoke detector or lightning conductor. And farmers who have been convicted of transgressions of regulations in other EU member states move to the Netherlands to work here instead, because there's no blacklist. This was the case with the farmer in Erichem. Our action plan contains measures which over the next few years could successfully ensure the safety of animals.”

The main points of the action plan are as follows:

  • Permanent ban on keeping animals for people who have been convicted of irresponsibly failing to respect fire safety
  • Recognition and enforcement of other countries' bans on keeping animals and working with animals
  • Compulsory inspection by the fire service every two years, with serious penalties for those found not to be in compliance
  • Modern smoke alarms in all stalls from 2020
  • All exiting stalls must be fitted with modern fire-resistant walls, sprinklers, or easy escape routes for the animals, by 2024 at the latest
  • Lightning conductors on stalls from 2020
  • Water for extinguishing fires at every location, including existing stalls, by 2020
  • Electrical apparatus in enclosed spaces from 2020, shorting being the biggest cause of fires in stalls.

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