MPCC Grain Bin Safety training receives major boost

Grain Bin Safety Training
Monday, June 28, 2021

Members of the Schuyler Fire Department participate in a Grain Bin Safety training offered through Mid-Plains Community College. 

A generous donation by the Nebraska Grain and Feed Association could soon make Grain Bin Safety training available to even more individuals in Mid-Plains Community College's service area and beyond. 

The NEGFA, which has provided 125 years of service to Nebraska's commercial grain and animal feed manufacturing businesses, announced its dissolution in May. 

As one of its final actions, the association donated $10,000 to MPCC's Business and Community Education department to assist with grain bin safety and rescue training in Nebraska. 

"I'm speechless and very humbled by this wonderful donation," said Tim Zehnder, MPCC director of Fire Science. "We haven't decided exactly what the funds will be used for, but the thought is that they might offset some of the costs associated with smaller fire departments receiving grain bin safety and rescue training. Most of the rural fire departments don't have budgets for continuing education, so this could be a way to help with that in areas where this type of training is needed most."

MPCC has the only Grain Bin Safety program in the state. Zehnder travels throughout Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming every year providing the training to fire departments, co-ops, feedlots, fairs and conferences among many other events. 

"Farmers, ranchers, basically anyone who works around grain bins, can benefit from the training," said Zehnder. "There are typically 30-50 grain bin accidents every year across the nation, and about half of those result in fatalities." 

Proper grain bin entry, air monitoring, the importance of having a lookout and wearing a harness, use of a rescue tube and methods for digging victims out of grain bins are all things Zehnder addresses in his workshops. 

"There are basically two sides to our program – the awareness piece and the rescue component," Zehnder said. "We try to hit the safety aspect pretty hard because it's important to be proactive as opposed to reactive when working around agricultural equipment." 

He's hopeful that the NEGFA donation will help him offer the potentially lifesaving training to as many people as possible for the least amount possible. 

More information about MPCC's Grain Bin Safety program, including registration, is available through Zehnder. He can be reached at or (308) 345-8126.