Article and photos by Gregory Havel
The grain storage structures shown in the photos are common throughout North America. Although they are not designed for human occupancy, they play a significant role in the economic life of many communities. Structures and facilities like these are commonly used to store bulk grain, animal feed, fertilizer, and other bulk commodities that must be protected from the weather and contamination.
Photo 1 shows a large grain storage facility with steel bins ranging from a few thousand bushels (left) to hundreds of thousands of bushels (center) to millions of bushels (right). Also visible are the vertical elevator legs with access ladders, horizontal conveyors and walkways along the tops of the bins, and the diagonal gravity chutes from the distributors at the tops of the elevators to the conveyors or bins.
Photo 2 shows a smaller grain storage facility with a vertical elevator leg with access ladder; horizontal conveyors and walkways; and diagonal gravity chutes.
The bins in photos 1 and 2 are constructed of horizontally corrugated curved sheets of galvanized steel that are bolted together. Several of the bins in these photos show vertical columns on the outside of the bins, attached with the same bolts that join the corrugated panels. The other bins have their columns inside the bin, attached in the same way. These two types of construction are typical of these storage facilities. Note that both the columns and the corrugated panels are essential load-bearing parts of the structure and that care must be exercised in cutting openings for rescue or for other purposes. If an opening is cut in the wrong place, is made too large, or cuts columns, the bin may partially or totally collapse.
OSHA standards on confined space entry (29 CFR 1910.146) and control of hazardous energy (29 CFR 1910.147), are available online at no cost from OSHA at www.osha.gov Click on the “Regulations” tab, select “Part 1910,” and scroll down to select Section 146 or 147.
Gregory Havel is a member of the Burlington (WI) Fire Department; a retired deputy chief and training officer; and a 30-year veteran of the fire service. He is a Wisconsin-certified fire instructor II and fire officer II, an adjunct instructor in fire service programs at Gateway Technical College, and safety director for Scherrer Construction Co., Inc. Havel has a bachelor’s degree from St. Norbert College; has more than 30 years of experience in facilities management and building construction; and has presented classes at FDIC.
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Subjects: Building construction for firefighters