New grain bin excavation equipment was granted to Labette Fire District No. 9 on Tuesday, giving firefighters in the county new tools in the event of farm workers getting trapped.
“It’s great value to us and to the community we serve,” said Jeremy Tyler, Labette No. 9 interim fire chief. “We have the tools we need at our fingertips to get the farmers out or help a neighboring department that doesn’t have the tools. Things are expensive and not every department can afford it, so we’ve got to help each other out when we can.”
The district was granted the new equipment — a six-piece metal siding plus an auger — by Specialty Risk Insurance of Carthage, Missouri.
Specialty partnered with Nationwide Insurance to provide the equipment to fire departments in the region.
“It’s important for us to protect farmers,” said Kelsie Raucher, the marketing specialist for Specialty. “Our farmers know the impacts and the danger at hand. That’s why we’re working with Nationwide. We now have 12 tubes in the area.
“Nationwide has the grain bin safety initiative. Their initiative is to have zero lives lost. We’re trying to prevent any grain bin entrapments. But in the case that somebody is entrapped, we want fire departments to be equipped with the tools and the training to get somebody out.”
Tyler said applying for a grant for the equipment gave the department a chance to bypass impacting the department’s limited finances.
“The grant process started with me talking to another volunteer fire department,” Tyler said. “Equipment is something that’s hard to come by. Most of the time, you can’t afford it financially. So you seek the grant process. Now we’re getting our training on our new toys.”
Brian Freese, a representative for the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, provided the training to the district as well as neighboring fire departments that attended, including the Parsons Fire Department.
“It’s very user-friendly,” Tyler said. “I got to play with a set about eight years ago and they’ve come a long ways.”
While grain entrapments are rare, they’re dangerous for farmers or farm workers.
“It’s not a frequent thing,” Tyler said. “This equipment isn’t something departments run out to buy. It won’t get extreme use. But when you need it, it’s very practical. It’s better to have something sitting on the shelf than not having it when you need it.”
Tyler said communication is key for safety.
“It’s important to keep a line of communication open between someone that’s in the bin and someone that’s outside,” Tyler said. “You want to make sure nobody is trying to turn on the lower auger. Or if you’re getting grain out and the top isn’t moving, you need to expect a grain collapse.”
Beachner Grain donated the grain as well as sidings for the training.
“They also brought in some grain sides to practice cutting into,” Tyler said. “Grain bin sides are hard to come by. So it’s a real treat that Beachner brought some in for us to practice on.”
The St. Paul Fire Department is the closest department that has grain bin extrication equipment granted by Specialty.
“It’s great that we get an opportunity to get grain (rescue) training like this,” Tyler said. “We worked with neighboring departments and it gives them a taste of what they might want for their own department.”
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