DIXON – The Dixon Rural Fire Department can now do grain bin rescues about 40 minutes faster than previously possible.
About 2 years ago, firefighter Isaac Dimmig started looking into the department getting a grain bin rescue tube. The closest one the department could use, thanks to mutual aid agreements, was in Byron – about 40 minutes away.
“I couldn’t imagine standing there for 40 minutes watching someone sinking into corn, [telling them] ‘Help is coming,’” he said. “I am the help.”
Dimmig started calling around to elevators to see what they used. Some already had the tubes, he said, but others didn’t. Then one day he got a call from Scott Stoller, of Ag Perspective, who wanted to help the department get the rescue equipment, Dimmig said.
The fire department got the equipment – two tubes made up of five panels – over the summer, Dimmig said, and “fortunately” haven’t had to use it yet. The equipment cost about $2,000, he said.
The panels are each 18 inches wide and 5 feet tall. They’re connected with a tongue-and-groove hinge and have steps and handles on the outside and inside.
The tubes are placed around the victim in the grain bin so the victim can be secured and safely removed by firefighters. The two sets of panels can be combined to create a wider tube or can be stacked to create a deeper tube.
The fire department hasn’t responded to a grain bin rescue call recently, said Chief Norris Tucker Jr.
“It runs in spurts, believe it or not,” he said.
With the mutual aid agreement, the Dixon Rural Fire Department could get called for a grain bin rescue from anywhere in Lee or Ogle counties.
When they do respond to that type of rescue, holes are cut into the grain bin to let corn out, a vacuum is used to suck corn out, monitors are used to check the air quality, and ropes and harnesses are used, Tucker said.
The ropes and harnesses can be used only once, Dimmig said, because their reliability can’t be guaranteed after that. Replacing the equipment can be costly, so the department has used grants, but also received donations.
Dimmig credits Stoller for stepping up to help the department be better prepared for a difficult rescue.
“It’s amazing where some of your supplies and assets come from,” Dimmig said. “People just come out of the woodwork.”