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Colorado Firecamp - wildland firefighter training

Apply on-line now for Colorado Firecamp's upcoming S-212 Wildland Fire Chain Saws classes:

  • March 7-10, 2024
  • April 11-14, 2024
  • May 2-5, 2024
  • May 30-June 2, 2024
  • June 20-23, 2024
  • July 11-14, 2024
  • August 1-4, 2024
  • August 22-25, 2024

Cost: $750 includes tuition, books, meals & lodging.

What to Bring to Class

Job Hazard Analysis (JHA)

MTDC Chain Saw Training

Felling Boss Training

Little Grass Valley Tree Felling Accident FLA — August, 2009

Freeman Reservoir tree felling fatality, 72-hour report & OSHA citation — June, 2009

Storm Mountain Ranch tree felling accident, OSHA citation — May, 2009

Andrew Palmer Fatality, Dutch Creek Incident, — June, 2008

OSHA citations

Volusia County Tree Felling Fatality
Scene Pictures — November, 2007

Big Creek Fire Accident — August, 2006

NWCG Hazard Tree and Tree Felling Task Group — link to hazard tree safety information

USFS Region 2 letter to Sen. Udall, re: S-212 cutting area — June, 2009

CSFS Faller Qualification Guidelines — May, 2006

USFS Region 2 Chainsaw Policy — February, 2005

S-235 Felling Boss Training, Issue Paper #12 — January, 1996

Wildland Fire Chain Saw Glossary — S-212 Pre-course work




Horizontal cut:
Initial cut made in bole of tree, the horizontal cut is the gunning or aiming cut to direct the tree to the desired lay. Typically the horizontal cut should be at least 1/3 of the trees’ diameter. Also known as the gunning cut.

Sloping cut:
The second of the three required felling cuts. The sloping cut can be located above or below the horizontal cut and should be angled to provide a wide opening for the tree to fall into.

The last cut in the felling sequence; it is initiated on the opposite side of the tree and above the horizontal portion of the undercut.

Undercut or Facecut:
A wedge shaped section that is sawn and removed from the tree to be felled. The undercut forms an opening for the tree to fall into guiding the tree into the intended lay. The undercut is formed when the horizontal and sloping cuts are sawn. The two cuts should meet, but not cross each other.

The types of three undercuts. Conventional, Humboldt, Open Face

1. Horizontal or gunning cut, 2. Sloping cut, 3. Back cut.

Holding wood:
A section of wood located between the undercut and the backcut. The holding wood holds the bole of the tree to the stump and guides it into the undercut. The holding should be even across the width of the stump and never be completely severed.

Holding wood

A Dutchman occurs when either the horizontal or sloping cut extend past each other. This results in an “undercut within an undercut” that closes before the tree is committed to the undercut causing the holding wood behind it to break prematurely.

Dutchman, cuts needed to correct dutchmen

Boring Backcut:
A felling method that utilizes a back cut where the chainsaw bar is inserted behind the holding wood area and the direction of cut proceeds away from the holding wood toward the back of the tree to fell. This is a particularly good method to use on leaning tress as it prevents the tree from pulling a large amount of holding wood and possibly barberchairing.

Side wedging:
A method used to stabilize a leaning tree, and help to guide the tree into the undercut.

Vertical split of a tree during the felling procedure. Commonly a result of improper facing and/or back cutting. Characterized by a portion of the fallen tree being left on the stump.

Scarred or hollowed section at the base of a tree caused by rot or fire.

Escape Route:
A predetermined path of exit used by fallers when felling or bucking. The essential components of an escape route are selection of the desired direction and distance, prior to felling or bucking, and a well cleared path through which to escape.

Escape route

Human Factors

The summer of 2008 was a very active fire season in the western United States, particularly in Northern California. EM was excited to get their first out-of-park assignment. Although EM was on a day off, and out of communication, the resource order was accepted. The departure time was delayed for close to 12 hours due to two crew members being out of phone contact during the day the order was received. The decision was made to begin travel from Port Angeles, WA to Junction City, CA, late in the evening. En route to California the engine had numerous major mechanical problems. In spite of these mechanical issues, EM continued on. Shortly after reaching fire camp, the engine completely broke down and had to be towed to a repair shop. Unable to go out on the line, arrangements were made for EM-CAPT to work in camp, while CAPT accompanied the engine to town and then worked to get a loaner engine from WNRA. Suggestions from NPFMO to “get a job as fallers” while the engine was down, were taken to heart as the young crew was eager to go to work on the fireline. On the morning of July 25, 2008, OBDt received a request for fallers to work in front of mop-up crews on Division B. OBDt had been told by EM-CAPT that EM-CAPT were fallers and knew EM-CAPT were from an area with large timber. When presented with the opportunity to work as fallers, EM-CAPT jumped on it. OBDt recognized EM-CAPT’s limited qualifications as fallers, and counseled EM-CAPT on that fact. When EM-CAPT presented themselves as fallers to DIVB at the Division break out meeting, both DIVB and TFLDt assumed EM-CAPT were a class C falling module. At some point during the day, a decision was made to fall Tree 1, a class C tree. Due to inexperience with the felling of large trees, great difficulty was encountered with the undercut. The procedure of getting the undercut in most likely took a fairly long time. When Tree 1 fell in an unexpected direction, setting into motion an unanticipated chain of events, FC1 had limited time to react to the danger. Unable to make it to a safe area FC1 was struck by Tree 2. When FC2 and FC3 realized that their crewmember and friend was severely injured, FC2 and FC3 did their best to help FC1 based on FC2’s and FC3’s limited experience and training for the emergency situation at hand. FC2 and FC3 continued to remain with FC1, talking and offering encouragement and comfort, during the long process of extracting FC1 from the hill.

Prepared By:
/s/ Pete Duncan
Pete Duncan
Lead Instructor/Chainsaw Program Coordinator
Region 5, Northern Operations Area
USDA Forest Service

<<< continue reading—Dutch Creek Incident,
Tree Felling Fatality, OSHA Citations >>>


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