Pittsville farmer’s death prompts efforts for new fire/EMS detector
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – A local farmer’s death has prompted efforts to prevent similar incidents from happening in the area.
In Sept. 2018, Pittsville area farmer, Peter Petersen died while working in his silo, after being exposed to silo gas.
Since that day, the Pittsville fire department has gone into action to make sure accidents like that do not happen again in the community, working to have a specialized gas detector built to detect two gasses that are prevalent on local farms.
Pittsville Chief Jerry Minor said that the idea came after the determination that what happened to Petersen was due to the exposure to gas.
In discussions with the National Farm Medicine Center, and their work on a similar project involving the Biasdiaz family of Amherst and exposure to manure gas, they began to develop the project.
“Our current gas meters do not have a sensor to monitor for nitrogen dioxide (silo gas) for us to use,” Minor added.
Donations from two local families – the Petersen and Iverson families – funded the creation of the detector.
“The Iverson family has a long standing history of donations to the fire department here in Pittsville,” Minor explained. “They made the donation in honor of Pete and allowed us to use the funds in whatever manner we choose.”
“Silo gas or nitrogen dioxide and manure gasses, primarily hydrogen sulfide, are both dangerous to not only the farm community but to rescuers that need to respond to these incidents,” a department release said. “In addition, this meter also detects low levels of oxygen as well as flammability levels.
“While at a conference this spring in Indianapolis, fire department personnel researched and sought out a company by the name of Industrial Scientific. After much discussion, specifications were met to build this meter. Cost was significant but covered by our donors.”
Minor said that the detector will be used when it is believed that silo gas or manure gasses are present, or if a farmer wants to check an area for a safe atmosphere.
The department will make the meter available to area fire/EMS departments, and their MABAS partners, as well as local farms with emergency personnel guidance, when detection is needed in an agricultural setting.
The detector will become active in September. National Farm Safety and Health week is Sept 15-21.