Grant gives Pinetown tools for grain bin rescue

Published 10:56 pm Sunday, December 3, 2017


Pinetown Volunteer Department now has the tools to safely extract a person who gets trapped in a grain bin.

A $3,400 grant from DuPont Pioneer’s Giving Program purchased the pieces that could save an accident victim from the crushing weight of grain: a cylindrical tube that comes in eight vertical pieces, arm rest for the trapped person so they don’t sink farther, panels to provide a solid surface atop the grain so rescue personnel can work without fear of sinking in and a rescue auger to remove grain surrounding the victim.

“We’ve been trying to get this grant for at least two years to purchase this equipment,” said Pinetown Capt. Doug Bissette. “With all the grain bins (in Beaufort County), you know all the farmers who store grain, and the grain carts around, it could help us tremendously.”

Bissette said amongst emergency personnel, they typically hear of one grain bin incident per year in northeastern North Carolina. Once a person standing atop grain such as corn or beans begins to sink, it’s very difficult to free oneself.

“Generally, when they get about past their waist, it’s hard to work their way out,” Bissette said.

“They’re kind of stuck because of the pressure, and if they continue to go down, the weight of the grain will make it hard for them to breathe.” Death in grain bin incidents is due to suffocation.

Bissette said the grain bin rescue tools will be available to all of Beaufort County, either for other departments’ training or in the rare case of a rescue.

“They just have to call us, and we’ll take it out there to do training or rescues,” he said.

Currently, Washington and Pinetown first responders are certified in ag rescue, and Bunyan Volunteer Fire Department personnel has completed an ag rescue course.

Bissette said next step is to get the younger Pinetown volunteers well-versed in the use of the equipment.

“We’re going to do some training with it when it gets colder,” Bissette said. “We like to do the training where the more experienced guys take a step back so our younger members can get experience, so they can perform as expected without a senior officer there.”