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A Well-connected Guy...Gaétan Martin Électricien Inc.


Each year in Quebec, there are more than 200 farm building fires. Moreover, this number increases each year, as well as material losses associated with it. These numbers are effectively three times higher than for all other fires. Farm buildings are particularly vulnerable to fire because of their very combustible construction. Also, farmers store or use flammable materials. In addition, farms are usually located far from a fire station, have no water supply and, for the most part, are not equipped with a fire detection system.


About $ 27 million goes up in smoke every year for farm buildings. Fire losses are three times higher for the farm than for all fires in Quebec. These are huge losses when you consider that a good farm building can be worth $100,000 to $150,000! Unfortunately, between 1998 and 2002, fires resulted in three deaths and thirteen wounded. Firefighters are also in danger! In 1993, four firefighters died in Warwick when a propane tank exploded in a farm fire.

Informations :
1. Electrical wiring
1.1 Wiring type :

In agricultural settings, it is important to use electrical wiring made for wet areas. Non-Metallic Dry (NMW); Non-Metallic Wire (WET) (NMW); and Non-Metallic Wire Underground (NMWU). NMD wiring should be used in dry areas only. The NMW can be used in wet areas and the NMWU is a waterproof wiring that can be buried.

2. Wiring protection against rodents
2.1 Unprotected :

This type of wiring can become prey to rodents who have a disproportionate need to sharpen their incisors during regrowth. Grinding the wiring, there is a short circuit risk that can start a fire.

2.2 Wiring out of reach :

This method consists of fixing the wiring to the ceiling, on a wall or on the side of a beam. By keeping the wiring a minimum of 4" from the top of a beam, a rodent cannot reach it. Best when used in an atmosphere free of dust, moisture or corrosive vapour.

2.3 Aluminum sheathed cables :

TECK and ACWU type wiring provide adequate protection against rodents thanks to its twisted aluminum casing. Rubber-coated, these types of wiring are suitable for wet and corrosive areas. PVC or rigid metal conduits are not required.

2.4 Wiring protection (except for TECK and ACWU) :

Protection with PVC or rigid metal conduit is recommended when passing the electrical wiring through a wall, ceiling or inside an attic. In a hay loft and/or barn, such a protection is required over the entire length of the cable.

3. Electrical panels

Excessive moisture corrodes the electrical contacts, making circuit breakers and fuses ineffective. Overloading can occur even without the circuit breaker or fuse tripping. An electric arc may form when overheating occurs and the panel catch fire. Recommended enclosure and panel types: Type 4 = Used where the panel can be splashed directly (Type 4X: corrosive environment).

3.1 Location of Electrical Panel :

Must always be in a separate building area where there is an atmosphere free of dust, moisture or corrosive vapours.

4. Electrical equipment

All electrical equipment – electrical outlets, power switches, junction box, disconnector and starter - must resist wet and corrosive areas. When the wiring is not installed inside a PVC or rigid metal conduit, the electrical equipment must be connected using a waterproof connector that matches the shape of the wiring.

5. Lighting

The surface of a single 100-watt incandescent bulb can reach 460° F, which is more than enough to ignite straw, hay or other combustible material. LEDs are no longer recommended in agricultural settings.

6. Electric heater
6.1 Agricultural heaters :

There are now electric heaters designed for heavy-duty use in agriculture. It is recommended to use a sealed heater approved for the agricultural sector. The electrical elements of an unsealed heater are exposed to moisture and can corrode. They are not washable with water!

6.2 Infrared lamps (incubator) :

Infrared lamps in a livestock breeding area must be approved for agriculture duty. Installation must be more than 24 ". Combustible materials.

7. Electric motors

Agricultural electric motors often fail due to inappropriate type or misuse. It is important to opt for a closed type engine, with the mention of farm duty.

8. Generators
8.1 Double-action switches :

Hydro-Québec and the Quebec Electrical Code require a dual action switch that allows for the selection of a single power source.

8.2 General connectors :

Generator connections to the service panel must be provided by a secure connector that is designed to prevent errors and shocks. The size of the connectors varies according to the power (number of watts) of the generator. Consult a master electrician for the size to use. An inappropriate size may overheat the wiring and plug.

8.3 Stationary generator exhaust pipe :

The exhaust pipe shall be at least 228 mm (9") from combustible materials and use an insulated sleeve to pass through a combustible wall.

9. Fuel tanks

A single spark is more than enough to ignite gasoline vapours. Gasoline and diesel are highly flammable products. A tank with an electric fuel distributor must have explosion-proof properties.

10. Prevention tips
10.1 :

Extension cords are designed for temporary use, otherwise they may overheat or cause arcing.

10.2 :

It is important to pay special attention when washing electrical equipment with a high-pressure hose.

10.3 :

Always use proper calibration of your circuit breakers or fuses in your electrical panel.

10.4 :

It is recommended to have your electrical equipment inspected every 2 years by a master electrician.

10.5 :

It is recommended to have an ABC portable powder fire extinguisher.

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