Grain dryer fires are often a new challenge for firefighters
Kevin Heeg discusses grain dryers during a firefighter training exercise
A Wisconsin farmer says grain dryer fires are often a new challenge for fire departments. Crop farmers Kevin Heeg had a grain dryer fire in December 2019. He tells Brownfield most firefighters don’t deal with farm equipment very often, and farmers must often advise firefighters on how to get grain out of the burning dryer, pointing out what doors to open and what to take apart to fight the fire.
Heeg says another concern is where the corn or grain is going when it leaves the dryer. “The third thing I did when I came out that night was I ran up the grain bin. I had 15 thousand bushels of dry corn in there and I didn’t want smoldering corn to get up there before it got shut off.”
Heeg says if a fire breaks out in the dryer, make sure firefighters start checking the grain bins. “Because you can put a smoldering fire out in a bin and maybe save the bin of corn. Three or four hours later, if that thing ignited, 15 thousand bushels of corn igniting? That wouldn’t have been cool.”
Heeg says there are many different designs and manufacturers for grain dryers and he can only help firefighters understand his unique setup, so he encourages farmers and firefighters to form a plan before it’s needed. “If volunteer fire departments know that farmers have these on their site, maybe they need to talk to the farmer. Give them a call and maybe visit with them and have an idea.”
Heeg Farms and neighboring Heiman’s Holsteins hosted a firefighter and ag rescue training event near Chili, Wisconsin Saturday.