Film fundraiser to help Bargersville FD improve grain bin rescues

A tragic loss awakened the Bargersville community to the dangers farmers face every day.

When Richard “Dick” Henderson became trapped in his grain bin while working in 2007, firefighters and family members spent more than an hour trying to free him. Henderson died before they could reach him.

His death was eye-opening for members of the Bargersville Community Fire Department.

“When that accident happened, we weren’t totally prepared for what we had to deal with,” said Mike Pruitt, deputy chief of the Bargersville Fire Department. “So we took steps to get training.”

Ever since, the Bargersville fire department has had a dedicated grain bin rescue team. To help raise money for upgraded grain bin rescue equipment, the fire department is hosting a screening of the film “Silo” at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Historic Artcraft Theatre. The feature film centers around the entrapment of a teen inside a grain silo, and a town that pulls together to save his life.

Organizers of the screening hope they’re not only able to raise money for new equipment, but help raise awareness about agricultural perils in their own community.

“It enlightens the general public that might not be aware of the dangers of the agricultural side, it brings awareness to our farm community, which works around these kinds of facilities quite a bit, and it also talks about the emergency response side,” Pruitt said.

“Silo” was released in May nationwide, and tells the story of Cody, an 18-year-old working on a farm who becomes the victim of a grain entrapment accident. Family, neighbors and first responders must put aside their differences to rescue him from drowning in the 50-foot-tall silo where corn quickly turns to quicksand.

The film’s director, Marshall Burnette, grew up in Tennessee farm country and was shocked by the frequency and horrid nature of grain entrapment incidents.

Following Henderson’s death, the Bargersville fire department set aside resources for a grain bin rescue team. The department was able to purchase a grain bin simulator for rescue personnel to practice on. They worked with experts from Purdue University, which has helped train first responders for these kinds of disasters.

Instructors have helped the fire department understand the dangers around the farm they might encounter, and how to work in a grain bin to reach a trapped individual in the most efficient way possible. The department also purchased special equipment that helps scoop away corn from someone until they can be freed.

Since then, the department has trained in case another entrapment occurred. Thankfully, Bargersville has not had another incident since 2007, though they have assisted other nearby communities with entrapments. But the incidents are common across Indiana and the country; on average there are nearly 40 fatal grain engulfment accidents a year in the United States. The department needs to be prepared, Pruitt said.

“We still have a large agriculture base, so we continue to train on that and expand that,” he said.

Pruitt learned about “Silo” while doing some research for the grain bin rescue team. The film has been shown more than 250 times at community screenings across the country, focused mostly in the Midwest. Pruitt made contact with the filmmakers, and worked to get sponsors to cover the costs of the screening and to rent the Artcraft.

The screening Sunday is being held in honor of Henderson. Proceeds from the film will allow Bargersville to expand its grain bin rescue program, to better train firefighters and make the department better at responding to the calls if they come in, Pruitt said.

“There is other equipment out there, such as vacuum attachments where we can pull up and suck the corn out,” he said. “There are little tools we’re trying to add to our cache of equipment that will make our responses quicker, removal of corn quicker, and we can better train our personnel in the department.”

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What: A fundraising screening of the film “Silo,” a fictional story about a teen trapped in a grain bin. The event will help the Bargersville Fire Department update its grain bin rescue team’s equipment.

When: 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Historic Artcraft Theatre, 57 N. Main St., Franklin

Tickets: $10 for adults, $6 for kids