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Tree Strike!

Discussion in 'Forestry and Logging Forum' started by 2dogs, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. 2dogs

    2dogs Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Yesterday I had the unfortunate experience of watching a tree strike a Cal Fire Captain and send him to the hospital. I am the sponsor's onsite representative and determine the course of action take by the inmate hand crews. I relate most of my directions to the Captain, who relays to the crew but often I just speak to the crew members. In this case one of my supervisors was onsite for a different purpose and he and I were standing be the idling chipper talking. The saw team was 85' up the slope and had faced a12" dbh by 75' tall madrone , they then yelled "back cut, down the hill" when the Captain when into their controlled area and kneeled down to fuel his saw. Their saw was off so they could hear any response and they made eye contact with the Captain. The saw team waited until the Captain fueled his saw and waved them off. He then disappeared behind a 48" dbh D-fir and began facing a 12" dbh fir. Neither could see the other. The saw team yelled again and began the back cut. When the madrone came down the Captain was moving from behind it. I yelled "falling", he spun away but the top of the tree hit him on the back of his right calf.

    The impact and the pain of the strike kept him on the ground for the time it took me to find a route up the cut bank, grab his radio, and reach him. Maybe 30 seconds went by. The impact was plainly visible on his Nomex pants. Swelling started immediately. I did a quick assessment and determined nothing appeared broken. After a couple minutes the Captain radioed for an ambulance code 2. He also called for either Cal Fire or CDCR (corrections) to come up and take custody of the crew. Despite the Captain's clear reporting of the address the Battalion Chief ended up 20 miles away in a state park. I thought it was funny but nobody else did. CDCR arrived in 30 minutes. The ambulance took 45 minutes, loaded the Captain and left. The Batt Chief took an hour. Now there were lots people but no one to drive the crew bus and the inmates back to camp. Two more Captains finally arrived and drove the crew home. In the mean time the BC interviewed the saw team and the swamper and me and of course took the obligatory pictures.

    Today two more crews showed up. We left the site of the incident alone except for falling the tree the Captain had faced. I had the team cut a second face above the first one and fall the 12' dbh D-fir the Captain was working on just prior to the strike. The rest of the day was uneventful.
     
  2. bitzer

    bitzer Bullshit Timber Expert

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    What was his hurry? Why couldn't he wait for the madrone to hit before getting back into it?
     
    Philbert and chipper1 like this.
  3. Jacob J.

    Jacob J. Tree Freak

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    I'd be interested to hear why he chose to remain in the strike zone (if he was).

    The agency (CALFire) designation for a strike-zone in falling operations has been set at 2.5 times the height of the tree being felled.
     
    Gologit, catbuster and chipper1 like this.
  4. Westboastfaller

    Westboastfaller Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Lucky to be alive but that is not good.
    He couldn't of heard "backcut" ???
    Who goes in there after someone calls "backcut" and proceeds on filling a saw up on the the low side of a Faller's zone on a cut up tree?

    We go 60metres (about 200ft ) or two tree lengths, whichever is greater.
    So then it's never under 200ft. Approach from the high side and hail..." Is it safe to come in?.. Is there anything cut up"? Faller should put his saw on the ground and put his hands in the air and walk back a few steps and say nothing cut up and it is safe to come in.

    If he didn't hear then it was still what I would think as a communication breakdown on his part.

    I'm surprised there is a crew up there too.
    I have done it with utility lines I guess, with a few saw hands at my feet and a snow shoveler and block chuckers on beetle control. On a fire crew I had to assess and ribbon and remove If needed before anyone came off the road. 5 people sit while one works. Sounds about right.
    Actually have to be certified to be able to remain in a falling zone under the Faller's direction. One saw running at a time.
     
  5. northmanlogging

    northmanlogging The gyppo's gyppo

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    Proof that rank doesn't necessarily mean intelligence
     
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  6. 2dogs

    2dogs Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Hey guys sorry it took so long to get back to you but frankly I'm pretty beat when I get home. Lock up the chickens, bring the cats in and feed them, grab something quick to eat, like soup, and hit the hay around 7pm. At least I'm ready to go every morning.

    The Captain will be on comp for 10 days. The swelling was pretty bad from what I hear. He's still on crutches too. I don't know if there will be any investigation but I would guess there won't be.

    So you all are thinking along the lines I am. He should not have walked into the control area. He could not see either of the saw team members and they could not see him. Still both should have known the other was there. I had worked with the Captain many times over the past few months and I can say he is a very smart man. He has always shown good common sense. It is probably an oversimplification to say this but the situation can be called a momentary lapse of judgement. On the other hand there is a difference between someone who has worked in the woods for years vs someone works in the woods off and on for short periods of time. I see things differently than he does. I'm sure if I were following you guys around you would probably think I'm an idiot for what I don't see.

    I take responsibility for this incident because I had a better view of what was going on than some of the crew. I will be much more vocal in the future. Most of the trees we are falling are around 75' tall with some going over 100'. I WILL demand a minimum of 200' between saw teams. I have a lot more work to do on this property, like years more. I don't want another incident on my conscience.

    Thanks for everyone's input.
     
    bfrazier, olyman, catbuster and 2 others like this.

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