Last year, when we built our new grain system, the dealer we worked with — Dan Zippay, who also happens to be a good friend of Mike’s — offered to put on a presentation highlighting bin safety issues.
We talked about it at the time and loved the idea, but we were unable to make it happen last year. This year, we started harvest out right by hosting a grain bin safety awareness presentation.
We mentioned the idea to our farm friend, Frank Mutnansky, a member of the local fire department, earlier this year. He instantly loved the idea. Frank has a passion for anything agriculture and loves to advocate for ag.
With Frank’s help, we started to plan the event, and before we knew it we were co-hosting it with the West Leisenring Fire Department, and Fayette County Farm Bureau had offered to pay for lunch. Things were coming together!
On the day of the presentation, we had about 50 people show up. Most were first responders throughout the county. We also had three Pennsylvania state troopers and some local farmers. We were ecstatic with the turnout.
We started the day at the fire department, where Dan explained how fast grain bin accidents can happen. He explained different parts of the grain bins and showed one of the grain tubes used in rescues.
While most of the farmers in attendance had at least some, if not a lot, of experience with grain bins, most of the first responders did not. At one point, someone asked a question and another person said, “You know 30 years ago, most volunteer firemen had some farm experience and knew what they were getting into. Today, that is not the case.” You could see heads nodding in agreement throughout the room.
After lunch, we went back to our farm where everyone could see a grain system in person. They were able to look inside the bins — they were all empty at the time — see the augers, and even climb up the stairs to see the manhole they would have to use if there was ever a need. We showed them our emergency shutoff and power shutoffs.
As luck would have it, we lost power at the bins and were not able to demonstrate how loud it can be when everything is running. However, many of those in attendance asked if they could come back when we were running the dryer and dumping grain.
It was wonderful to see that the first responders had so much interest. They asked a lot of questions, and there was a lot of discussion. Many were asking Dan where they could get training on how to do an actual rescue and get even more information. Some said that they would like to visit farms in their service area to become familiar with them in case of an emergency, and others asked Dan if he would be willing to come speak to their fire departments.
Even more exciting was the fact that our insurance agent, who also happens to be a farmer and a member of a local fire department, donated the money to purchase a grain rescue tube for the county. There is even talk now of possibly making a farm rescue trailer with other rescue equipment available.
We have more plans to work with the fire department on resources that could help them if we need them to help us. We couldn’t have been happier with the turnout we had at the class and the immense amount of interest that was shown.
Our farming community is growing smaller by the day, and we want to make sure that those who continue to do what they love stay safe, and that those who may be called to help us have the information and knowledge they need to not only save us, but also keep themselves safe, too.
Sheilah and Mike Reskovac and their sons farm near Uniontown, Pa. Check out all of their "Two Hearts, One Harvest" blogs.