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July 13, 2012

Kansas Pig Farm Fire Highlights Dangers of National Pork Producers Council Position Against Requiring Sprinklers in Factory Farms

The Humane Society of the United States Urges NPPC to Reverse Dangerous Position

A fire which killed an estimated 2,000 pigs this week in Benton, Kan. is a tragedy that could have been prevented or minimized if sprinklers had been installed in the massive building. The fire comes days after successful lobbying efforts by the National Pork Producers Council to squash efforts by the National Fire Protection Association that would have mandated sprinklers in newly constructed animal housing facilities.

The recently-proposed NFPA amendment, which would have protected animals, workers and firefighters alike, was passed at the group’s technical committee meeting last month, but that vote was abruptly reversed following lobbying pressure by NPPC, which opposed the safety measure.

“First National Pork Producers Council leaders advocate locking pigs in tiny gestation crates so small the animals can’t even turn around, and then lobbies to prevent the basic addition of sprinklers to the very facilities where those animals are confined,” stated Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for The HSUS. “This industry’s disregard for animals is virtually unprecedented and seems to know no limits.”

NFPA is a world-recognized authority on fire protection and develops, publishes and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks.

Joe Scibetta, member of the NFPA animal housing facilities technical committee, spoke passionately in favor of requiring the safety improvement. He said:

“When caught in a fire, animals don't understand why they can't breathe or why they are in such agony. They do, however, perceive and are conscious of the sheer terror of their situation and the terrible sensations of burning, suffocation, and pain…In commercial animal housing facilities, when we confine animals to suit human purposes, we have an obligation to secure fire protection for them, especially due to the fact that in most of the recent… animal housing fire cases, humans were not on hand to effect rescue.”

 

Media Contacts: Anna West, awest@humanesociety.org, 301-258-1518

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