Firefighters receive grain rescue training

Fort Macleod firefighters prepare for Saturday’s training session at Hilltop Dairy.

Firefighters received training on Saturday for an emergency they hope will never happen – a person trapped in a grain silo.

The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association brought its mobile training trailer to Hilltop Dairy, north of Fort Macleod, on Saturday.

Firefighters from the departments of Fort Macleod, Granum, Nanton and Claresholm in groups of five have been trained by trainer Joe Bruyere.

Bruyere said that as people become more aware of the dangers associated with working around stored grain, there are fewer cases of people being trapped.

“It’s less and less but it’s not going to go away,” said Bruyère. “It doesn’t happen as often now, but it happens more than we would like. “

Due to public health restrictions in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, firefighters received some of the online training.

Course topics included how grain incidents occur, common injuries, types of entrapment, grain handling and storage facilities, and hazard identification.

Firefighters also learned about regulations, confined spaces and fall protection, as well as hazard analysis and risk assessment.

On Saturday at Hilltop Dairy, small groups of firefighters used the mobile trailer to simulate a rescue.

The firefighters took turns playing the victim, climbing into the open bin and being submerged in grain up to the waist.

The other firefighters then used metal panels to build a small cofferdam around the victim.

A small auger was then used to extract the grain until the trapped person could exit, using the ladder rungs on the metal panels.

The training sessions each lasted approximately two hours.

“When the call came two years ago looking for rural instructors, I jumped on it,” said Bruyere, who has been a firefighter in rural communities for 20 years.

The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association has a Winnipeg-based mobile training trailer that is in demand from coast to coast.

“Anywhere there is a grain store, it’s worth training,” Bruyère said.

Before COVID-19, the association was able to film the exercise and show it on the big screen to an audience of farmers and local actors.

The Fort Macleod Fire Department will consider purchasing rescue equipment.

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