By James Tubb 
BELLEVILLE – Local farmers can expect a visit from the Belleville fire department  this weekend.
Fire prevention officers will be going door-to-door in rural Belleville on Saturday to distribute packages containing farm and barn public fire safety education materials. Both farms that have livestock or are solely agriculture operations will receive the safety messages.
For Belleville fire chief Mark MacDonald, the initiative sparks a conversation that could save lives and businesses if taken seriously.
“We have seen some significant losses in the province over recent years. There have been some big cases of barn fires and sometimes the families or businesses are never able to rebuild,” MacDonald said.
Emergency Services | @BellevilleFire  will be conducting a Barn and Farm Safety Blitz on Sept. 26. Education materials will be hand-delivered to mailboxes that have farm & barn occupancies. Please review this material & take action to prevent a fire in your barn or farm. pic.twitter.com/x8oHqDpUwn 
— City of Belleville (@BellevilleON) September 21, 2020 
The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management  reports there are approximately 80 reported fires involving barns that hold livestock with an estimated loss of $18.5 million in the province each year.
The material being delivered contains a fire safety checklist and a fire safety self-assessment form. MacDonald says both are useful in helping to spot potential fire hazards. He suggests they can be used by farm owners to do a honest refection of their property to ensure that everything is up to the proper fire code and is in a safe, working condition.
“A certain complacency can set in with both new and old farms that can be very dangerous,” he said. “Even dust can become a fire hazard.”
The visits also allow the fire department to do an inventory of all of the farms in their coverage area. By visiting, the department can pre-plan how they would approach a potential fire on the property including detailing where the nearest water supply is.
“This initiative is about protecting family farm legacies,” MacDonald said.
With the up-coming fall harvest just around the corner, the hope for Belleville Fire is to catch farmers before they begin their busiest season and ensure that their barns are safe before the storing of this year’s harvest.
“Preventing the fire is the most critical and easiest way to beat it,” MacDonald said