Specially Trained Firefighters Needed for Grain Elevator Rescue

Firefighters specially trained in confined-space rescue saved a man who was trapped in a filled grain elevator at Premier Cooperative in Sydney, IL.  The team of firefighters is comprised of firefighters from the Urbana, Champaign and Danville fire departments and serves all of Champaign County.

Employees had been augering grain from a bin when it stopped flowing.  Reports estimated there was about four feet of grain at the center of the bin and about 20 feet tapering upward along the walls. One of the workers climbed down to unplug the auger and the machine collapsed, causing him to fall to the bottom and the 20 feet of grain along the walls to bury him.

Fourteen firefighters and four instructors from the University of Illinois' Fire Services Institute responded to the call and helped removed grain to free the victim. The team split up into groups of four and five and worked for about 30 minutes at a time.

Compounding the difficulty of the rescue was the temperature. With outside temperatures hovering around 90, the temperature inside the grain bin soared to 120 degrees. Rescuers wore face masks to try to keep from inhaling grain dust. Working with heavy rigging and ropes, they were finally able to pull the victim out three and half hours after he fell in. Tragically, the 55 year-old man had died.

Confined space rescue represents one of the most challenging and dangerous rescue operations undertaken by local fire departments today. Emergency Film Group’s three-part training DVD series provides a comprehensive examination of response issues in a confined space emergency. To learn more, read here. . .


Plywood is loaded into a grain bin elevator where a man was trapped. Plywood is loaded into a grain bin elevator where a man was trapped.


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