Wildland Fire Safety & Health Reporting Network

SAFENET Event Information
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20160810-0004        [Corrective Actions]
Event Start Date:
08/10/2016 1350
Event Stop Date:
08/10/2016 1420 
Incident Name:
Bucking and Limbing training
Fire Number:
Local Unit:
Calaveras R.D.
Incident Type:
Incident Activity:
Stage of Incident:
Position Title:
Chainsaw training 
Management Level:
Resources Involved:
T3 engine crew (5 crewmembers) E322 
Contributing Factors
Contributing Factors:
Human Factors
Human Factors:
Decision Making, Performance  
Other Factors:
Describe in detail what happened including the concern or potential issue, the environment (weather, terrain, fire behavior, etc), and the resulting health issue.
Firefighter was conducting bucking and limbing field training, having just completed the classroom portion of S-212 the day before. Firefighter trainee was operating a Stihl MS440 chainsaw with a 28" bar using full skip, round filed chisel chain. The trainee was wearing all required PPE and was operating the saw under the direct guidance and supervision of the module AFEO (a qualified FFT1 and FALB, with 12 seasons of experience, including one year of Hotshot time.)

Prior to initiating saw operations, the trainee was fully briefed on what tasks were going to be performed (in this case it was limbing and bucking a pair of previously felled ponderosa pines.)

The trainee began limbing at around 1350, beginning about midway up the first tree (approx. 18" diameter), cutting limbs approx. 2-3" diameter. The trees were located on an approximately 5% slope, with a south aspect. Weather was clear, sunny, 84 degrees, and 14% RH.

As the trainee worked his way up the trunk of the tree, the supervising faller/trainer constantly monitored and evaluated the trainee's performance, reminding the trainee to be aware of tip location, bar placement, kickback and fatigue awareness, and the importance of maintaining positive control of the saw at all times.

At the time of the incident the trainee was at a point where the two down trees overlapped one another. The trainee was cutting a 3" diameter limb located on the upper surface of the bottom tree, which was mostly concealed by the upper tree laying on top of the bottom tree. A small (1-2") horizontal gap existed between the two logs, and at the suggestion of the supervising faller/trainer the trainee extended the bar through the gap and utilized the top portion of the bar(the powerhead was in the "up" position) to cut the limb. As the cut limb began to fall, the upper tree moved downward slightly and the trainee, concerned about potentially pinching the bar between the two trees, rapidly stepped back with his right foot, pivoted on his left leg, pulled the saw out of the work area and inadvertently brought the running saw into contact with his left thigh.

Upon striking his thigh the trainee immediately set the chain brake, shut off the saw and notified the supervising faller/trainer that he had cut his chaps. The supervising faller/coach determined that the trainee had sustained no injury and that the chaps had received a penetrating cut approximately 1" in length, pulling out a number of Kevlar strands. The supervising faller/trainer immediately suspended saw operations and notified the module leader.
Immediate Action Taken
Reporting Individual : please describe actions you took to correct or mitigate the unsafe/unhealthful event.
Once notified of the incident, and after verifying that there were no injuries, I had both the trainee and supervising faller/trainer write statements regarding what happened. While they were preparing their statements I began documenting the environmental conditions at the site of the incident, as well as photographing the damaged chaps, the chainsaw, and the worksite where the incident occurred. Additionally, I contacted the district duty officer via FM radio and asked him to come to the project site. Upon arrival, I explained to him what had happened, what actions I had taken thus far, and what actions I planned to take (submit a safenet, preserve the chaps for evaluation, conduct an AAR of the event.) He concurred with my plan and returned to the district office.

Corrective Actions


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