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Kenmare firefighters win grain bin rescue tube

Firefighters in Kenmare and surrounding departments now have another tool in their first responders arsenal to save lives if the need arises.

10/25/16 (Tue)

Trapped in grain . . .
Scot Ness is the “trapped” farmer while other firefighters use a grain bin rescue tube in an attempt to free him from inside the “grain bin.” The Kenmare Fire Department was named one of 19 winners nationwide of an $8,000 grain bin rescue tube and training seminar held in conjunction with Grain Bin Safety Week. 

By Marvin Baker

Firefighters in Kenmare and surrounding departments now have another tool in their first responders arsenal to save lives if the need arises.

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., of Des Moines, Iowa, announced Oct. 15 that Kenmare is one of 19 departments in 14 states that won a grain bin rescue tube, valued at $8,000 and a full day of hands-on training.

There were 641 departments nominated and Kenmare was the only North Dakota department named in the giveaway that was held in conjunction with Grain Bin Safety Week.

Other departments in the Midwest receiving the grain bin rescue tube and training included fire departments from Shelby, Mont. and DeSmet, S.D.

Joe Peterson, the operations manager at CHS SunPrairie in Bowbells, nominated the Kenmare department for the award.

He said CHS SunPrairie is big on safety and since he is very familiar with grain elevators, he wrote a descriptive letter to Nationwide Insurance on behalf of the Kenmare department.

Peterson wrote that his customers are farmers and that Kenmare is a central location for the grain bin safety tube to be located.

“If we have to rescue someone out of a bin, it doesn’t matter if it’s us or a competitor,” he said. “It’s pretty exciting knowing there were more than 600 nominations and we got it.”

Peterson has never witnessed a grain bin tragedy in Bowbells and he hopes he never has to deal with it, but just in case it ever happens, the life-saving equipment is minutes away.

“Sections of the tube go around the person in the bin,” he said. “It goes around the person’s body to keep them from going in further.”

Kenmare firefighter Ron Jensen called the training and tube a “gift” from Peterson that his department was nominated.

“We’re grateful for the equipment and the $8,000 gift,” Jensen said. “To get that gift and that training is wonderful.”

Al Kohler, who has been on the department less than a year, took the day very seriously and called it “pretty educational.”

“There’s do’s and don’ts and the do’s are not exactly the way to do it,” Kohler said. “I’m glad I went to it, to learn the proper procedure.”

Kohler described the grain bin safety tube as coming in four pieces that are placed in the bin individually, clipped together, building the tube around the trapped individual.

He said there is a small auger that’s attached to the inside of the tube that is powered by a battery operated power drill.

As the tube is being built, a firefighter operates the drill, augering grain out and away from the person to take the pressure of the grain away from the body. The tube is then worked down into the grain to alleviate more pressure.

In addition, Kohler said the firefighters were taught how to cut holes in the sides of grain bins to drain the grain out.

He said instead of cutting one large hole, as many would think, holes are cut at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions which helps the grain drain equally.

If one hole is cut and there is enough grain in the bin, the grain could drain so quickly it would create suction and cause the bin to crinkle like an aluminum can.

Kenmare Fire Chief Nate Condit explained that his department was somewhat familiar with the grain bin safety tube as they work on it during fire school.

“But it’s excellent to work on it in our own lot,” Condit said. “It’s good for our department and I’m glad to see these other departments show up and hang out with us.”

After firefighter Scot Ness agreed to go into the training bin and be the trapped farmer, Condit said there were conversations going on that would be the norm during a rescue operation.

However, in talking to Ness, it was learned that he was getting tired after about 20 minutes partially submerged in the bin. Ness clarified though, that some of it may have been because of the equipment he was wearing.

“It doesn’t take very long to wear somebody out and I can’t imagine if somebody was sitting in there for hours,” Condit said. “I hope we never have to use it, but it gives us another tool in the arsenal.”

He said there are more and larger bins nowadays and the rescue tube can only help in any rescue effort that may be necessary.

Condit added that Kenmare has mutual agreements with surrounding departments so if they need the grain bin rescue tube, Kenmare will get it there as quickly as possible.

“Small departments’ funding is very limited,” he said. “This makes us that much better and that much safer.”

The training was conducted by Dan Neenan, a representative of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety in Dubuque, Iowa. Nationwide funded the training and the grain bin rescue tubes.

This is the third year Nationwide has funded the program, which, according to Nationwide Agribusiness President Brad Liggett, is becoming more popular each year.

“Due to the generous and increasing support of our partners, the contest continues to grow each year,” Liggett said. “While accident prevention is our No. 1 goal, we’re committed to helping equip first responders with the necessary grain rescue equipment and training.”

Liggett said Nationwide is proud to help bring awareness to preventable grain bin entrapments and deaths.

“Grain bin accidents can tragically impact individuals, families and entire communities,” he said. “Accident prevention means everyone working together – and Grain Bin Safety Week provides a forum for the agricultural community to help keep people safe.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!