VANCOUVER, WA (AUGUST 2022) Wildfire season is back for the western United States. The Elmo Fire and other conflagrations have burned tens of thousands of acres across Montana, home of many grain producers and processing facilities, including those of Vancouver, Washington-based grain and oilseed exporter United Grain Corporation. A bridge connecting Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains grain producers with buyers in the Asia-Pacific region, UGC satisfies the demands of its customers and creates favorable outcomes for producers. However, UGC uniting all in success extends even further to include its local communities as several UGC staff members also serve as volunteer firefighters.
“Our mission is to feed the world, safely, and our grain elevator employees who participate in firefighting efforts go many extra miles to ensure that we can do just that,” said UGC CEO Augusto Bassanini. “Fires pose a risk to natural resources we need for fulfilling our mission, so we are grateful to those who dedicate their efforts to extinguishing them.”
Such individuals include UGC’s Country Terminal Operations Regional Manager, George Killham. A volunteer firefighter for over 20 years, Killham is based at UGC’s facility in Moccasin, MT, where a fire engine is stationed in case he ever has to answer a call during work. When the weather becomes dry during the summer, fires can easily start in the facility’s surrounding communities, including in grain fields. Fires are often caused by faulty equipment or something as simple as agricultural machinery hitting a rock and creating a small spark that grows. This risk is heightened during the summer harvest, and Killham recognized years ago the importance of mitigating the risk with a robust number of volunteer firefighters.
“I just saw the need, joined them, and I’ve been doing it for quite some time,” said Killham.
In addition to Mr. Killham, UGC has four other team members serving their communities as volunteer firefighters.
“Wildfires are regular but dangerous occurrences for the states and communities in which UGC operates,” said Bassanini. “We are very fortunate to have team members at our elevators willing to step up when people are needed to extinguish them.”