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More grain bin rescue equipment and training in Delaware could have made a recent sand bin rescue easier, according to Delaware Farm Bureau Member and Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief/Vice President Jason McCabe.

The call for help came in on Wednesday, Feb. 1 from an Atlantic Concrete facility in Dagsboro. By 10:15 a.m., the fire department was on site and ready to begin the rescue. Throughout the day, McCabe said a slew of emergency personnel from both public and private entities assisted in freeing a 19-year-old man stuck inside of an industrial sand bin, including the Sussex Technical Rescue Team. 

Although Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department doesn’t currently have grain bin rescue tubes on hand, cofferdams were available through other fire departments, some of whom had been awarded their rescue equipment and training through generous donations from Mountaire or Nationwide’s annual Nominate your Fire Department Contest.

Of the responding units, at least four had been awarded this equipment and training through Nationwide’s program; Mountaire had also donated the same to the Sussex Technical Rescue Team. Through Nationwide, Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Department received training and tools in 2020. In 2021, Laurel Fire Department received the same thanks to sponsorship from the Sussex County Farm Bureau, followed by Georgetown Fire Company in 2022 thanks to sponsorship from the Delaware Farm Bureau and Seaford Volunteer Fire Department in 2022 thanks to sponsorship from the Delaware Soybean Board.

“One of the beauties of the volunteer rescue system in Delaware and one of the things that makes it great is that there is a great working relationship between fire departments and other entities, be it our EMS, paramedics, state police, DNREC, DelDOT and other groups,” McCabe said. “What made this one rescue unique was the far reaching assets that responded. We had the entire state of Delaware partially or wholly committed in some form or fashion. And really, it was a Delmarva response, more so than a strict Delaware response. We had responders here from Ocean City, Ocean Pins and Salisbury, too.”

He added that Technical Rescue Teams, Mountaire and Perdue were very helpful and mobilized quickly during the rescue as they brought rescue equipment to the scene.

Mountaire Farms’ Facebook page stated after the event, “Our team had donated a grain bin rescue kit to the Sussex Technical Rescue Team just a month prior, and we brought two more kits to the scene yesterday at their request. This is why we train and this is why our proactive safety program – Goal Zero – is so important. On behalf of our entire team at Mountaire, GREAT JOB to everyone who was a part of the successful rescue yesterday.” 

These kinds of public and private partnerships have not only supported local businesses in Delaware and on Delmarva, but they have worked to save lives, as well, as more first responders receive the tools and training needed for technical rescues such as this one.

“I would say that any industry that incorporates any type of gravity hopper, grain storage system, etc., it is never a bad idea to have the cofferdams on site,” he said. “On site rescue tubes and training for local fire fighters, that would have probably been the only thing that could have made this rescue better. On the emergency services side, we had a great team.”

He emphasized safety for farmers who need to use grain storage systems and promoted Nationwide’s contest which offers a way for local fire departments to gain rescue equipment and training  

“If you do have to go in [a grain or sand bin], make sure you have someone on the outside who can call for help if needed. Lock out, tag out. Wear a harness so you can at least be attached to something if there’s a problem and try to have rescue equipment on hand if at all possible. But we can’t expect all of our farmers with 10,000 bushels of storage to have a cofferdam on site ready to go. So having our members nominate their local fire departments to receive these dams is really a powerful way to go so a farmer doesn’t have the worst possible day and end up engulfed in the grain system. Whether we’re dealing with an emergency or something else, having the tools on hand and having the training is paramount to having the best possible outcome,” McCabe said.

Fire Departments in Delaware which have been awarded grain bin rescue equipment and training to date include Bridgeville, Harrington, Odessa, Carlisle in Milford, Camden-Wyoming, Laurel Fire Company, Seaford, Clayton and Georgetown.

“Every year, grain bin accidents lead to countless injuries or deaths and it is everyone’s responsibility to take proactive measures to prevent these tragedies from happening,” Nationwide’s President of Agribusiness Brad Liggett said. “For a decade, Nationwide has been a leader in the fight to correct this industry issue, and while we’re incredibly proud of the efforts and the many partners who’ve made them possible, there is more work to be done.”

To make the contest a success, Nationwide partners with the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety every year, along with other partners like the Delaware Farm Bureau, helping provide 272 grain rescue tubes to first responders across 31 states.

“Rural fire departments are often the only line of defense when an entrapment takes place in their region and time is of the essence when responding to these accidents,” said Dan Neenan, director at NECAS. “It’s critically important to ensure these first responders not only have the specialized rescue equipment, but also the training needed to respond effectively. NECAS is proud to join Nationwide and its partners to make a difference.”

Nationwide’s Nominate your Fire Department Contest runs through April 30 and anyone can participate by visiting

For more information, the Delaware Farm Bureau can be reached at or by calling 302-697-3183.

Post Author: Mikayla Paul

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