Hutchinson Herald Sept. 1 Print Edition Complete MVFD Article

Menno Volunteer Fire Department hosts safety clinic, car show events
by Erik Kaufman
It was a busy time last week for the members of the Menno Volunteer Fire Department.
The local department hosted both a training session on grain bin safety and rescue as well as their first annual car show and barbecue rib cook off, activities that expands both the knowledge base of local firefighters as well as provides funds for new firefighting equipment.
The car show, held Saturday afternoon, Aug. 27, saw hundreds of people from Menno and the surrounding communities converge on two blocks of Fifth Street to take in the sights of vintage cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles on display. Live music performances by Dale Weiss and Tom Ulmer as well as the River Rockers also provided entertainment for the crowd.
One of the main draws was the rib cook off, a first for the event, which was previously organized by the Menno Area Development Corporation. A handful of rib masters plied their trade in the lot to the west of the Menno Fire Hall, where they prepared their fare for visitors waiting inside the Menno Fire Hall.
The ribs were a popular item, and they went fast, said Jai Walter, chief of the Menno Volunteer Fire Department.
“Hopefully we can get more cookers in next year and make the ribs last a little longer,” Walter said.
During the car show, members of the Menno Volunteer Fire Department could be seen talking with visitors, serving food and generally providing guidance and organization for the event. But just a few days before on Tuesday, Aug. 23, the same group of firefighters were on a much more serious mission. They were studying the science of grain bin rescue.
Grain bins are a common sight all across the United States and especially in locales like rural South Dakota. And while an important staple of farm life, they can be dangerous. As an auger unloads the bin, grain flows to the outlet and is released, causing the grain above it to flow in and replace the released grain. When a worker stands on flowing grain, their weight forces the grain supporting them to flow to the outlet more quickly, causing them to rapidly sink into the grain. According to one source, at the average flow rate for grain, a six-foot tall worker can be covered with grain in 11 seconds and would be unable to free themself after the first five seconds.
Walter said this is the first time the department has hosted a grain bin training session on this type, though some firefighters have undergone the training at other locations.
“We’ve had a few guys who have gone to classes in different areas and taken this class someplace else, but this, as a whole department, was a first,” Walter said.
Walter said Country Pride Cooperative had been helpful in securing a grant for the session, and was also a part of a previous attempt at holding a local session on the subject that never came to pass due to weather issues.
The training, which came through the National Education Center for Agriculture Safety, involved lowering a volunteer into a simulated grain bin, having rescuers place metal plates around the partially-submerged victim, then pulling out grain from inside those plates using a small electric drill and specially-designed auger. The plates prevent the outside grain from continuing to fill the void.
Firefighters also trained on making effective cuts to a drain bin wall using a saw.
Walter said about 40 firefighters took part in the evening session, including some from Menno, Lesterville, Scotland, Freeman, Marion and Tabor. Members of the local ambulance service were also on hand to train.
And it wasn’t just firefighters and emergency medical technicians who took advantage of the course. Walter said nearly 40 people showed up for a similar seminar for farmers and others who work closely with grain bins. Walter said that seminar was more focused on safety and preventing accidents as opposed to rescue.
“The one in the afternoon for the public was geared a little more toward the safety end, to keep them from getting in that situation,” Walter said.
Some of those at the early session also stopped by the evening session, as did others who didn’t have a chance to take part early in the day, Walter said.
Walter said it’s always good to bring training sessions like this to Menno when the opportunity arises. The department will travel for training as they always do in the future, but if a chance comes along to bring more programs like this to the community, Walter said he’s all for it.
“I’d sure like to try doing a few more things with the public. As far as doing stuff with other departments, it gets done, if not in Menno we’ve also been to Freeman, Scotland, Parkston,” Walter said. “Every so often a different department does something and invites other departments. It’s a mutual aid thing.”