Rural communities face unique fire risks. The distance between communities and between residents within those communities results in challenges related to fire. Fire death rates in rural areas are very high. Additionally, loss of property and livestock have an extreme emotional and economic impact on residents in the local area.
Common fire problems in rural areas
- Heating is a common cause of residential structure fires and deaths.
- Fixed heaters, including wood stoves, are involved in most rural residential heating fires.
- Damaged electrical equipment is often the source of fire in barns and other farm buildings.
- Many homes do not have working smoke alarms increasing risk of death in a fire.
Resources for rural fire safety
Barn fire safety checklist (PDF, 828 KB)
Fires in barns and farm outbuilding put people, animals, and property at risk each year. Use this checklist to reduce risk of fires in the barn.
NFPA 150, Standard on Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities
NFPA 150 covers barns where animals are housed and is invaluable to anyone interested in safety in this type of property.
Public Fire Education Planning for Rural Communities: A Five Step Process, NFPA & USFA, October 2007
This planning guide introduces a simple, easy-to-use planning process to develop a fire safety program for rural communities. The information in this planning guide is based on the U.S. Fire Administration’s (USFA’s) booklet Public Fire Education Planning: A Five-Step Process. The steps have been modified for application in any rural community, regardless of location, size, population demographics, or fire problem. The process leads you to solutions based specifically on your community’s resources, problems, and values.
Perth East in Ontario, Canada has developed the farm fire safety program, “Building a Farm Fire Safe Community” to address the growing concern of farm-related fires. View their video, “More at Stake Than The Barn” below.
NFPA reports related to rural fire problems
- Characteristics of Home Fire Victims, Marty Ahrens, October 2014
- Lightning Fires and Lightning Strikes, Marty Ahrens, June 2013
- Mitigation of the Rural Fire Problem: Strategies Based on Original Research and Adaptation of Existing Best Practices, NFPA & USFA, December 2007
- Structure Fires in Barns, Ben Evarts, June 2012
- U.S. Fire Experience by Region, Michael J. Karter, January 2013