A comprehensive farm safety training program for emergency services personnel is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 28 at the Stiles Farm Foundation, located one mile east of Thrall, Texas.

There is no charge for the training and the program includes a barbecue lunch at noon. The training will provide education on equipment fires, hazardous materials, overall farmstead safety and other topics.

“The 2011 drought was a continuous threat to rural Texas,” said Dr. Andy Vestal, Texas AgriLife Extension Service director of homeland security and emergency management in College Station. “It’s imperative that emergency services personnel receive comprehensive training so they are prepared to serve and protect agricultural producers and agribusinesses that provide commerce for both rural and urban-based economies.”

Event sponsors are Williamson County Farm Bureau, Travis County Farm Bureau, Texas Farm Bureau, AgriLife Extension, Texas AgriLife Research, Texas Forest Service, Williamson County Grain, Williamson County Equipment, Coufal Prater and Williamson County Gin.

“This training program is open to anyone involved in emergency services, which includes volunteer and urban fire departments, sheriff, police and emergency management teams who serve agricultural areas in Central Texas,” said Bob Avant, Williamson County Farm Bureau president and director of corporate relations for AgriLife Research. “Participants will receive in-depth training with regards to emergency response involving both modern and older farm equipment, plus instruction on hazardous materials and general farm safety.”

Emergency services personnel will be provided the following training:

- Farm equipment systems (tractors, combines, cotton harvesters, hay balers, tillage equipment).

- Sprayers.

- Farmstead safety.

- Hazardous materials.

- Equipment displays.

- Tour of grain elevator and cotton gin.

Avant said participants will receive specific training on many types of farm equipment. For example, even with the battery cables cut on some older tractor models, the engines can still be operable during an equipment fire.

“We will have both old and new tractor models used as part of the instruction on how to properly kill a battery,” he said. “We will also have a cotton picker on hand to explain how to properly locate the hydraulics system and other important aspects.”

Ron Moellenberg, fire chief for Travis County Emergency Services District No. 2, said the training will be an excellent opportunity for firefighters to examine and learn about unique hazards associated with farm equipment.

“Motorized farm equipment is quite different than the motorized vehicles we encounter every day in the fire service, and our approach and actions during an emergency need to take that into account to prevent further injury to others and ourselves.”

Moellenberg said participants at the training will see the Travis County StarFlight helicopter rigged for a fire-fighting mission.

“This represents another unique experience that has become more commonplace because of the extended drought in Texas,” he said. “As a fire chief I cannot express enough gratitude for those working to make this experience available to firefighters from large and small departments. Such training is rare, and the opportunity to have an exchange of information like this has value beyond any dollar mark.”