Instructors and Graduates for 2018 Saw Class
Mendocino National Forest
The Forest Service requires that volunteers - who use chainsaws to clear trails of downed trees - get certified or recertified every 3 years. It was that recertification requirement that prompted QWR’s, Don Amador, to attend a recent chainsaw class guided by tenets of the new National Forest Saw Policy.
The chainsaw class was hosted by the Mendocino National Forest and students included agency staff and trail volunteers from the BlueRibbon Coalition/Sharetrails.org, Quiet Warrior Racing, Polka Dots Motorcycle Club, Mendocino 4x4 Club, and the California Four Wheel Drive Association. The class instructor was Captain of the Mendocino Hotshots, a highly skilled wildfire suppression team.
New Sawyer Card
According to the Forest Service, volunteer sawyers covered by those policies often maintain trails on national forests and grasslands or work in Wilderness where crosscut saws are required. The national saw directive standardizes training, evaluation, certification, and safety procedures for sawyers operating on lands managed by the agency.
The safety planning components are related to Felling, Bucking, Brushing and Limbing Plans that uses a planning logic strategy which includes the following analysis and project description categories; Objective, Hazards/Obstacles, Leans/Binds, Escape Routes, and Cut Plan (OHLEC). This process is applied to all phases of the saw operation.
Class Completion Certificate
Historically, the chainsaw certification levels were largely based on tree size or Diameter at Breast Height (DBH). The current certification rating is more focused on the complexity of the specific felling or bucking task using OHLEC as a decision matrix. The sawyer certification levels are listed below.
A Sawyer. An apprentice sawyer who may saw only in the least complex situations or, for training purposes, at the next higher level and in either case only under the immediate supervision of a B or C Sawyer qualified to supervise the work.
B Sawyer – Bucking Only (not applicable in the fire management context). An intermediate sawyer who may independently buck and limb any size material in moderately complex situations and who may saw at the next higher level, but only under the immediate supervision of a sawyer qualified to supervise the work
B Sawyer – Felling and Bucking. An intermediate sawyer who may independently fell, buck, and limb any size material in moderately complex situations. This person may saw at the next higher level under the immediate supervision of a sawyer qualified to supervise the work. This person may also conduct classroom and field training for A and B Sawyers with prior written approval from the Saw Program Coordinator.
C Sawyer – Bucking Only (not applicable in the fire management context). An advanced sawyer who may independently buck and limb any size material in highly complex situations based on the Regional Saw Program Manager’s or Saw Program Coordinator’s written recommendation. The recommendation must be supported by demonstrated advanced saw knowledge, skills, and in most cases certification as a B Sawyer. This person may conduct classroom and field training within that person’s skill level for A and B Sawyers, and may conduct field proficiency evaluations within that person’s skill level for A Sawyers and B Sawyers ̶ Bucking Only.
C Sawyer ̶ Felling and Bucking. An advanced sawyer who may independently fell, buck, and limb any size material in highly complex situations based on the Regional Saw Program Manager’s or Saw Program Coordinator’s written recommendation. The recommendation must be supported by demonstrated advanced saw knowledge, skills, and in most cases certification as a B Sawyer. This person may conduct classroom, field training, and proficiency evaluations for A and B Sawyers.
LINK TO INFO ON THE FOREST SERVICE NATIONAL SAW PROGRAM
Don Amador, President of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting, states, “I believe the agency has improved its chainsaw training program for trail volunteers with enhanced classroom curriculum and plenty of time allocated for field instruction.”
“I agree with a number of trail volunteers that I talked with (who had been certified under the old saw program) that the new complexity-based certification system makes a lot of sense. I also appreciated the program’s sharp focus on safety with a primary goal of getting you and your crew back home for dinner at the end of the day,” Amador concludes.
Again, the training is very comprehensive. Topics include, but are not limited to: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), area size up, proper body positioning and stance, familiarity with OSHA requirements and regulations, physics of “binds”, physics of “kickback”, sawyer/swamper communication, cutting area control, danger tree awareness, job hazard analysis and emergency evacuation plans, Forest Service radio communication, radio procedures and how to use a Forest Service radio; parts of the chainsaw, how to sharpen chainsaw chain, and saw maintenance; and of course the inclusion of safe chainsaw handling, starting and stopping procedures, use of escape routes, and safe fueling of the saw to avoid “fuel geysers.”
QWR continues to believe the need for a trained professional volunteer workforce will continue to grow as federal agencies roll out new programs such as the Forest Service’s National Trail Strategy or face challenges such as recreation budget cutbacks or staffing shortages.
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