Albert Lea Fire Department wins grain bin rescue tube in contest

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

By Bethany Tennis


The Albert Lea Fire Department is a recipient of the 2018 Nominate Your Fire Department Contest.

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With the grant, the department will receive equipment and training needed to aid in grain bin entrapment accidents.

These accidents, with a 62 percent fatality rate, continue to be a safety issue for farmers across the United States, according to a press release. Fire departments will be better equipped to save the lives of farmers who are stuck in grain bins using the grain bin rescue tubes, according to the release. The grain in the bin acts like quicksand, so time is a crucial part of the rescue process.

For the past four years, Nationwide has partnered with the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety to select fire departments from across the United States to be the recipient of the Nominate Your Fire Department Contest. Nationwide created this contest to shed light on the lack of resources rural fire departments have to protect against bin entrapments. This year is the fifth year the contest has been supported.

Albert Lea Fire Department was one of 29 departments that received the grant out of 400 submissions. Each department was selected by a committee based off of the need for equipment in the area. This year’s contest awarded more fire departments than any previous year.

Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Laskowske, along with the rest of the department, recognized the need for the equipment and filled out an application.

“Never take a grain bin for granted,” Laskowske said. “You never know what could happen.”

The bin rescue tube’s purpose is to create a barrier-like separation between the trapped person and grain so that the grain around the person can then be removed and the person freed. The department will have hands-on training on how to use the rescue tube in a mock grain bin incident later this month.

Nationwide’s contest has given tubes and training to use against grain bin entrapment to 77 fire departments in 23 states since 2014.

Freeborn County has a large number of farms where grain bins are used daily, which is one of the reasons why area fire departments are seeking out this equipment, Laskowske said. The county has had a few grain bin entrapment accidents in the past couple of years, and there are several area fire departments that already have the grain bin rescue equipment.