Bethel Township Fire Department Grain Bin Rescue Tube012
Department nominated for device by Jan & Jack McKnight, who lost their dear friend in a grain bin accident.

The Bethel Township Fire Department of Clark County recently received a second coffer dam, or grain bin rescue tube after being nominated by a local family. Through Nationwide Insurance’s Grain Bin Safety Awareness program, local fire departments are eligible to receive the device and training free of cost.

The BTFD received its first coffer dam earlier this summer from the Clark County Farm Bureau, and because the department does not have a need for two devices, Fire Chief Jacob King said he will donate one of the coffers to either Pike Township or Hustead, depending upon which department serves an area with a higher concentration of grain bins.

Jan and Jack McKnight nominated the Bethel Township Fire Department for Nationwide’s coffer dam giveaway, and more than a dozen members of the department received training for the device last Thursday, September 10. Representatives from Nationwide were on-hand, as well as specialized instructors to lead the training. Chief King said 17 of his crew attended Thursday’s training, saying that some of them had already received such instruction, but that the others had not learned the art of grain bin rescue yet.

King said the coffer tube has the potential to save lives, noting that since the death of local farmer Warren Mumma in 2013, the department has been avidly gathering training and education on grain bin extraction. Mumma entered his bin in May of 2013 to check on an auger when he was pulled down and trapped within the corn.

“This is a tool and training that will assist us with a specialized response in grain bin rescue,” said King. “Ever since the Mumma incident, we’ve been working to learn life-saving measure in this type of response.”

Bethel’s Captain in Charge of Training, Felix Shanahan, said that the McKnights “deserve acknowledgement” for nominating the department to Nationwide. Shanahan said that the McKnights were “old school friends” of the family affected by the 2013 tragedy, saying he believed that they “felt kind of powerless about it—they took it pretty rough, and it of course made them very sad,” said Shanahan.

He said that Mrs. McKnight spent a lot of time gathering the information required to submit her recommendation to Nationwide for consideration. Shanahan said the McKnights had seen the Nationwide call for submissions in a farming magazines, stressing that their submission was likely very heartfelt and personal in order for it to be chosen among the other entries.

“It was something that came from the heart,” he said, adding that McKnight also had to submit statistics such as the size of the fire station, population, number of grain bins in the area, and other facts that she personally had to obtain.

Chief King said that four members of the Madison Township Fire Department also attended the training, as Bethel Township has agreed to partner with Madison Township in grain bin responses in order to provide adequate equipment and personnel during these calls.

Local News

Stories on people, places, events and businesses right here in Western Clark County.

Local Government

Meetings and news from local Boards of Education, Township Trustees and County Commissioners.


Arrows, Bees & Warriors; we cover all local high school sports, as well as local semi-pro and adult leagues