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Fire companies get grain bin rescue tubes

Volunteer firefighter Makayla Parson helped demonstrate how the grain bin rescue tube works at the Harrington Fire Department in 2019.

Four Delaware fire companies now have grain bin rescue tubes.

All of them were awarded through Nationwide Insurance's "Nominate Your Fire Department," as a part of the annual Grain Bin Safety Week. Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Department received their grain bin rescue tube in 2017 and Harrington Fire Company in 2019.

This year, 41 fire companies nationwide will receive the life-saving equipment, including the Odessa Fire Company and Milford's Carlisle Fire Company. Each company will receive four hours of training by the National Education Center for Agriculture Safety, with a state-of-the-art grain entrapment simulator.

According to Purdue University, 62% of all reported grain bin entrapments result in death. Reports from United Press International found that “grain bin deaths spiked last year and in early 2020 due to last season’s wet harvest."

“We began our Grain Bin Safety campaign in 2014 to support the agriculture community and put an end to avoidable deaths from individuals entering grain bins without recognizing the dangers and taking precautions,” said Brad Liggett, president of Nationwide Agribusiness. “Thanks to the generous and increasing support of our partners, I’m extremely proud to say that we’re providing more rescue tubes and training to first responders this year than we have ever before.”

Delaware Farm Bureau Sussex County Women’s Committee Chair Connie Fox nominated the Carlisle Company for the award.

“If the grain shifts and you’re working in there, it only takes a few seconds before grain builds up around you,” Fox said. “If you’ve ever been to the beach and put your foot in the sand, you know your feet are heavy. When kids lay down and put sand all over your body, you can’t breathe. Grain does the same thing as sand. It puts pressure on you. You can’t breathe if you’re stuck. It takes less than 15 minutes."

June Unruh nominated the Odessa Fire Company after hearing about the contest at a Delaware Farm Bureau meeting. She is the bureau's New Castle County Women's Committee Chair.

“My husband and I are farmers and we have grain bins and a lot of the farmers, I think probably eight to 10 people in this immediate area, have grain bins," she said. "I just think it’s a real need to have something in place in case something happens. It makes me feel good as a farmer’s wife to know that we will have that available to us. And it’s just five miles up the road from where we live."

Had Odessa not received the rescue tube, the closest one would have been 45 miles south in Harrington.

“That’s just too much time," Unruh said. "These accidents happen quickly."