Grain Bin Rescue

How do we get them out of the bin?

   Living in an agricultural area, we tend to think in seasons. As fall is rapidly approaching, we will be preparing for “harvest” season. Often workers are required to enter grain bins. This leaves the risk of entrapment or injury. Many departments have received donations for recue kits that provide tubes or panels to assist in the rescue from entrapment. We have added a cordless drill powered auger to our kit. If you haven’t scheduled a class on this do so! It is covered under the Iowa firefighter training fund. We recently participated in a drill hosted by a neighboring department. We did this in an actual grain bin. The challenge I would like to discus in this month’s training topic is “how do you get them out and to the ground?” 

   You will need to identify available resources. Is there a hydraulic ladder equipped fire truck available in your area? It may not be on the initial response, but can you get one. This is by far the best option. If not, can you contact a local electric utility or tree service? If no option is available, I have lashed a roof ladder to the bin ladder to provide an elevated anchor point. Whatever your plan, train with it before you need it! Be certain you have the needed rope and rigging to do this. 

   One precaution I would like to share is to not use power to lift the victim from the grain or through the bin opening. Use only manual rigging to do so. If the victim is to become snagged, you will not feel this with power equipment, and this could result in a serious injury. It is fine to lower them with power. By rigging from an elevated anchor point and again at the base of the bin you can run the rope to a fire truck as the final support. Use a figure eight on the line at the truck that is rigged to the stokes basket with the victim (mannequin only) securely lashed in the bin. From the truck, Piggyback a block and tackle to this line with the use of a gibs or prusik knot. Lift the stokes out of the bin and clear. Once clear rotate the victim and lower them to the ground. Use taglines and be certain to guard all sharp edges. 

Training Objectives

   Upon completion, the department should be able to….

   • Identify resources available to perform this rescue.

   • Secure all needed materials to perform this rescue.

   • Be certain to have qualified/trained riggers to assist.

Scott Meinecke is a member of the Sheldon Volunteer Fire Department, Director of Safety for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives, and field staff for the Fire Service Training Bureau. He can be contacted by email at


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