Firefighters talk training, dangers of grain bin rescues


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Federal officials are continuing to investigate a fatal workplace accident that left two people dead.

The two were working at the Gavilon Grain elevator Tuesday afternoon when they fell into a bin filled with grain.

It took rescuers several hours to recover their bodies.

OSHA is investigating what exactly led to the deaths of the two employees.

Captain Don Boone with the Sedgwick County Fire Department has been with the Technical Rescue Team for 12 years.

He says they train two to three times a year to be prepared for if and when they have to respond to this type of incident.

“You basically have three different rescue disciplines that you are using, you are using the grain engulfment, which is the actual getting the victim out of the grain and then, you have the grain elevator itself is a confined space, so you have to be trained in confined space rescue,” said Capt. Boone.

He says they also train for how to get inside the elevators.

“You can’t get anything inside that grain elevator typically, you’re looking at a hole that is approximately 18-inches around, so even getting a person down in it, you have to get yourself pretty small to get lowered into the hole,” said Capt. Boone.

That’s why, Capt. Boone, says crews use several tools, like rope, harnesses and something known as a cofferdam.

He says the cofferdam helps vacuum the grain out of the elevator.

While they train for rescue and recovery, Capt. Boone says they also prepare for the dangers they may face.

“It’s a confined space, it’s not designed for people to be in it, so you have atmospheric hazards, electrocution, mechanical, all kinds of hazards,” said Capt. Boone.

About 30 to 35 firefighters were working the grain elevator incident on Tuesday.

Capt. Boone says only about two people can be inside the elevator at a time.

This is to make sure the grain doesn’t avalanche and cause the rescuers to also become victims.

Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet. Follow and like us on Facebook and Twitter.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Download the KSN News App and stay up-to-date wherever you are. You can even watch KSN News live for free!
Click here to get the app
Get it in the App store
Get it in the Google Play store

3 Day Forecast

KSN Storm Track 3 Weather

Trending Stories