In June 2012, the National Fire Protection Association, “the authority on fire, electrical, and building safety,” based in Quincy, MA, passed a
floor amendment by a two thirds vote (126 yes to 46 no) recommending that all newly constructed farm animal housing facilities be equipped with
fire protection sprinklers and smoke control systems. With nearly one billion farmed animals confined in U.S. facilities on any given day, the risk
of fire-related tragedies is huge. Between March and July alone this year, 535,000 animals, the majority of them chickens and turkeys as well as
thousands of pigs and more than 100 dairy cows and calves, burned and suffocated to death in facility fires, unable to escape their prisons.
Unfortunately, an agribusiness lobby, upon learning about the amendment, persuaded some members of the NFPA’s Technical Committee to change
their vote with the result that this needful amendment was rejected by the Committee for the coming year.
On July 27, United Poultry Concerns, joined by 12 other animal protection organizations, filed a letter of Appeal with the NFPA urging the NFPA to
uphold the original floor amendment. See
On August 7, 2012, UPC President Karen Davis spoke on behalf of our Appeal at the NFPA’s Standards Council Meeting, in Quincy, Massachusetts,
where she urged the NFPA to adopt the amendment, noting that “farmers have an ethical duty to protect the animals whose lives they have
exclusive control over, and installing sprinklers and smoke-control systems is a minimal yet fundamental, part of that duty.”
The problem is that agribusiness companies will not do their “ethical duty” toward their helpless animals without a mandate, as
was proposed by the National Fire Protection Association this year and which UPC will urge in the next NFPA cycle of consideration.
Nothing speaks more clearly to the lack of responsible care, compassion, and ethics toward the animals at their mercy than the refusal of animal
farmers to install devices that could prevent their helpless victims from burning and suffocating to death in fires from which they cannot escape.
In August 2012, dozens more cows and calves burned to death on dairy farms in New York State. Cows suffering from smoke inhalation at one operation
were neither euthanized nor given veterinary care. Instead they were left to suffer until “picked up to be sold at auction as beef
On August 16, 2012, United Poultry Concerns formally applied to the NFPA as an Organization Representative to represent the interests of farmed animals on
the NFPA’s Animal Housing Facilities Committee. We await their decision on our application by the end of the year.
NFPA Journal®, September/October 2012
By Fred Durso, Jr.
To Karen Davis, describing the number of animals that have perished in structure fires this year as “alarming” is an understatement.
From March to July, seven reported fires in animal housing facilities were responsible for killing 535,000 chickens, turkeys, and pigs, according
to Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns (UPC), a nonprofit that advocates for the respectful treatment of domestic fowl.
“This number is staggering,” she says. “These animals are in a situation where they are completely incarcerated and can’t
escape. It’s horrific to think that our society would put animals in a position where they’re not protected by [from] preventable
Davis was thrilled when NFPA members at this year’s Association Technical Meeting in Las Vegas voted in favor of a certified amending motion
for NFPA 150, Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities, that
would require sprinklers in poultry farms, pet shops, barns, and a range of other structures used to house animals. (NFPA 150 already requires
sprinklers in facilities housing animals that are defined as dangerous or cannot be easily moved, such as bears and elephants.) However, the
measure failed to pass the subsequent balloting by the standard’s Animal Housing Facilities Committee, which reaffirmed its decision not to
include the new provision in the 2013 edition so it could further research the issue.
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