Delaware Farm Bureau works to secure donation of grain bin rescue tube to Harrington Fire Company

On July 11, Harrington Volunteer Fire Department will be awarded a grain bin rescue tube, a portable cordless drill-powered grain auger and training in how to use them. Unlike Bridgeville Fire Company, which won those things in Nationwide’s Annual “Nominate Your Fire Department Contest,” in 2017, Harrington Fire Company will receive them through the generosity of Nationwide agent Billy Staples and Schiff Farms.

This year, in addition to the contest, Nationwide opened its program up to those who could raise $5,000 to be able to secure a grain bin rescue tube, grain auger and training. Through the first five years of this annual contest, rescue tubes have been presented to 77 fire departments across 24 states, but more are needed.

Brad Liggett, president of Nationwide Agribusiness, said, “Deploying a grain rescue tube is the only way to safely remove someone trapped in grain. Rescuers should never try to use mechanical devices such as a harness to remove a victim from grain.

He asserted: “Until we can convince all farmers and other grain handlers to develop a zero-entry mentality, we will continue to make tubes available.” 

Margaret Chase, Nationwide sponsor relations account executive, spread the word to Nationwide agents in her service area and mentioned it to Delaware Farm Bureau President Richard Wilkins. From there, Wilkins said, raising the $5,000 was a collaborative effort.

Chase, and then Joseph Poppiti, DFB executive director, contacted Billy Staples, a Nationwide agent with offices in Salisbury and Harrington, to see if he would be willing to put up half of the funding necessary. Staples responded, “If we can help save or protect one life then that benefit is much greater than the investment into the equipment. We are happy to help a community and a way of life that does so much for us.”

Staples’ Senior Associate Agent Michael Howard added, “We feel it’s very important for Harrington Fire Department to have a grain bin rescue tube since we are dead center in a very large farming area. It’s the perfect location to house such important safety equipment. Harrington is considered the Hub of Delaware as well as the farming community.”

Wilkins and DFB Past President Kitty Holtz were instrumental in securing the balance of funding from Schiff Farms Inc. in Harrington. Holtz and her husband, Dave, have been loyal customers of Schiff Farms since 1971.  “We have had a great business relationship with all three generations,” Kitty said. “We started with Walter Schiff, then Jim Schiff and now with T.J. Schiff.  I contacted T.J. Schiff about the grain bin rescue tube to see if they would be interested and he said yes.  This is a great community effort between Schiff Farms and Billy Staples Nationwide Agency to bring the equipment and training to Harrington.”

Dan Neenan, director of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, will conduct the training on Thursday, July 11, at 6 p.m. at the fire department in Harrington. Farmers, grain handlers and emergency responders are welcome to attend. The fire company is located at 20 Clarke Street.

Neenan travels with a state-of-the-art grain entrapment simulator and rescue tube to conduct the training session. Loaded on a 20-foot trailer and able to hold approximately 100 bushels of grain, the simulator is the perfect training ground.

 When Wilkins approached Robert Brode, Harrington’s fire chief, about the training, Brode responded, “Yes, absolutely! We are more than willing to train with Dan Neenan and to keep the rescue tube on our apparatus to respond to any emergency involving grain silos.”

Brode expects about 20 of his 50 active volunteers to be on hand for the training.

DFB’s Poppiti said, “Next year we would like to raise the money to place a rescue bin in northern Kent County or southern New Castle County.”

 Anyone interested in helping with the project may call Poppiti at the Delaware Farm Bureau office at (302) 697-3183.

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