Grain Bin Rescue Equipment & Training Opportunities Available For Fire Departments

NDSU Extension highlights the need for grain bin rescue equipment and training.

February is grain bin safety month. North Dakota is no exception when it comes to grain bin entrapments and engulfments. In 2020, North Dakota ranked second in the nation for recorded grain-bin-related entrapments in the Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities report from Purdue University. That does not account for any undocumented grain bin related injuries and fatalities.

Research estimates that 30% of confined spaces incidences, including grain bin entrapments, are unreported or undocumented. Farms and ranches employing fewer than 11 non-family employees are not covered by federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) injury reporting requirements, meaning many farm and ranch injuries are not reported.

"The best strategy for preventing grain bin engulfments and entrapments is to ensure the grain is in good condition in the bin," says Angie Johnson, North Dakota State University Extension farm and ranch safety coordinator. "Grain that is in good condition should not bridge, crust or chunk, which eliminates any need to enter the grain bin in the first place."

Monitoring and addressing grain moisture issues throughout the season can prevent unloading challenges that might tempt individuals to use dangerous intervention strategies, such as entering the grain bin to try to break apart the crusts or chunks to get the grain flowing into the auger or sump.

"If grain does lose quality and begins to crust, chunk or bridge, a zero-entry mindset is the best way to keep producers and their workers safe from entrapment situations," says Johnson. "However, we know that many factors may lead an individual to enter a grain bin, making the need for intervention tools, trainings and rescue techniques a harsh reality."

Johnson suggests volunteer fire departments discuss equipment needs and training opportunities for responding to a grain bin rescue. Training is critical to prepare responders with the knowledge and skills to use equipment in a rescue situation. Fire departments can work with a local grain elevator and the North Dakota Firefighters Association or the Minnesota Safety and Security Consultation Specialists to set up a grain bin extrication and rescue training event. Neighboring fire departments can coordinate to ensure they are able to work together on a rescue. It takes a large team to respond to an incident, adds Johnson.

Grant opportunities can help fire departments interested in grain bin rescue equipment and training. Community members can nominate their fire department for one of the following grant opportunities:

AgCountry Farm Credit Services

This grant program awards grain bin rescue tubes and a video/on-site training to fire departments in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota. Selection of a fire department is based on current department resources, geographic area served and proximity to other grain bin rescue units in the fire department's area. There are no restrictions regarding the size of the fire department; however, fire departments must be from the following eligible counties:

Eligible North Dakota counties are Barnes, Benson, Bottineau, Burke, Cass, Cavalier, Dickey, Divide, Eddy, Foster, Grand Forks, Griggs, LaMoure, McHenry, McKenzie, McLean, Mountrail, Nelson, Pembina, Pierce, Ramsey, Ransom, Renville, Richland, Rolette, Sargent, Sheridan, Steele, Stutsman, Towner, Traill, Walsh, Ward, Wells and Williams.

Eligible Minnesota counties are Becker, Beltrami, Big Stone, Chippewa, Clay, Clearwater, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Koochiching, Lac qui Parle, Lake of the Woods, Lincoln, Lyon, Mahnomen, Marshall, Meeker, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Redwood, Renville, Roseau, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Todd, Wadena, Wilkin and Yellow Medicine.

For questions, such as application deadlines, contact AgCountry at [email protected]. Visit to apply.

Nationwide Insurance and the National Education Center for Ag Safety

This grant awards grain rescue tubes and hands-on rescue training to first responders and fire departments across the U.S., especially in rural communities that do not have access to this equipment or currently possess this equipment and training.

Nominations will be accepted until April 30 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

Grant rules and instructions on how to make a nomination can be found at

Contact the coordinators listed on each website for additional information about the grants and nomination requirements.

In addition to the opportunities mentioned above, NDSU Extension is working on a pilot project that will bring local fire departments, farmers and county emergency managers together to tackle grain bin safety as a team. For more grain bin safety resources from NDSU Extension, visit

"Thank you to all who serve as volunteer firefighters, paramedics, first responders and more within your communities," says Johnson. "Grain bin safety is a community safety and public health issue, as many people have been impacted or know of someone who has been impacted by a grain bin rescue or fatality. By working together to prevent grain bin entrapments and learn how rescue situations work, we can save lives."


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