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Machines Replacing all Physical Labor?

Jack Smith

Jack Smith

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Mar 8, 2018
Messages
28
Location
Massachusetts
Hi folks,

I live in an area where, in the past, paid summer workers created lane clearance for the fire department in my community's wooded areas. However, this was about 25 years ago and the City didn't continue with the program.

I'm curious, what would be the best choice, given the availability of more advanced machines nowadays - reinstituting the summer work program, or having machines come in and do the work - or both?
 
Woodslasher

Woodslasher

Make McCulloch Great Again!
Joined
Jan 2, 2019
Messages
2,393
Location
Commiefornia
Hi folks,

I live in an area where, in the past, paid summer workers created lane clearance for the fire department in my community's wooded areas. However, this was about 25 years ago and the City didn't continue with the program.

I'm curious, what would be the best choice, given the availability of more advanced machines nowadays - reinstituting the summer work program, or having machines come in and do the work - or both?
Both. A masticator and/or excavator with one or two ground guys is probably the most effective way to nicely clear brush and small trees. A dozer is quicker but it leaves a much rougher path. Say one guy runs a pole saw and limbs up the trees that are staying and a second guy helps to drag branches out of the way, and later they both slash the stuff around the base of trees that are being kept while the third guy masticates/grubs brush with the machine. If necessary, one or both of the ground guys can aid the masticator by clearing low hanging limbs, dropping trees for the masticator to mulch, etc.
 
northmanlogging

northmanlogging

The gyppo's gyppo
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
6,230
Location
western washington
Hi folks,

I live in an area where, in the past, paid summer workers created lane clearance for the fire department in my community's wooded areas. However, this was about 25 years ago and the City didn't continue with the program.

I'm curious, what would be the best choice, given the availability of more advanced machines nowadays - reinstituting the summer work program, or having machines come in and do the work - or both?
You'll likely have better luck finding a machine with operator (or buying one for yourself)
Common theme lately has been a lack of labor.
 
MattBanchero

MattBanchero

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Nov 3, 2016
Messages
37
Location
California
I run 3-4 guys including myself doing felling and pruning of small and crowded trees for wildfire mitigation in back yards and along fire roads. I have a mini excavator with a rotating log grapple and a 15" chipper. I've got a sweet little tractor winch that runs on a skid steer but there are less expensive ways to utilize it. Figure $3000/month in payments on new equipment. You can figure out your own labor costs. A tracked chipper is a better option in the woods but in a size that's useful with the excavator you're deep into commercial license territory to move it from job to job and equipment payments closer to $4000/month

Maybe $8k-10k/month to step up to a small tracked whole tree chipper and 6-12ton excavator with grapple and a couple other attachments to do post fire cleanup or much bigger fire break projects. Ideally a crew of 5-7 with the bigger equipment and another 4 ton excavator for less than $1500/month.

It's all about finding good people to run the equipment and safely run saws.

I generally don't like masticators. They aren't practical from a safety perspective in most back yards. The finish is rough. You need heavy carriers that are fuel hungry to run them. You don't have the option of off hauling the thinned material. Poor operators can get themselves in trouble really quick with a chipper drum on a stick.
 
Jack Smith

Jack Smith

ArboristSite Lurker
Joined
Mar 8, 2018
Messages
28
Location
Massachusetts
Thanks, guys. These are helpful ideas. Some of the fire roads (and accompanying trails) are narrow at times and I think some of the larger equipment might not be able to gain access - but then again, I guess
it's all about obtaining access (fire apparatus) so maybe going in and taking down much of the trees/brush is a good idea with one of these machines.
 

ArtB

ArboristSite Guru
Joined
Apr 7, 2003
Messages
589
Location
renton wa
Going by the title, Machines Replacing all Physical Labor
am going in a different direction having passed 75YO a bit ago:
Machines absolutely replacing physical labor for me <G>. 50 years ago could lift a 400 pound log onto trailer by hand, now have a hard time handling an 80 pound sack of concrete mix. Used to wonder WHY did mfg ever bother with 60# sacks, no I know.
Nowadays, look at a job and consider what type of machine I need to make or buy!
 
catbuster

catbuster

Roadbuilder Extraordinaire
Joined
Nov 30, 2009
Messages
1,440
Location
Louisville
For fire mitigation, I absolutley do not like to see a masticator. They have their place, but it’s not where fuel needs to be removed.

What size fire apparatus are you looking to get through? If it’s a type 6 engine a couple guys with saws can do the job. If it’s a 40,000 lb fully kitted Seagrave or an even bigger Kenworth tender, then a D6 or Link-Belt 290 size hole is going to save a lot of labor.

Matching people & equipment to the work is generally the most accepted method. Machines usually make the work easier on labor. Remember the history of Luddites? It’s a fair question of how many of them actually lost their jobs.
 
ATpro

ATpro

ArboristSite Guru
Joined
Feb 17, 2019
Messages
500
Location
ALABAMA
Had some timber thinned on one track that had a narrow fire lane/road on it. What we did is ask the logger to cut all the timber back 20 foot from the fire lane and cut the stumps as close to the ground as possible, that would give a good fire lane for the future and one that wouldn't grow in to fast. We ran a flail cutter over it and each year would spray with roundup to maintain the fire lane, and let grass populate the road of the fire lane, we maintained it with a bush hog. The reason we use roundup or it's generic is it has a water label so any run off isn't a problem so around here you don't have to have an environmental impact study to spray it.

Depending on the size and how much timber is involved you may get a logger to do the job of removing the timber or pulpwood to create a fire lane if you give him the product removed or a share of the proceeds. You can then get a skid steer with a flail cutter to come in and cleanup. You can then simply maintain the fire lane by spraying every year and running a flail cutter over it every 5 or 6 years. Where we live overgrowth can take a fire lane in a year or two so we have to be diligent in maintaining the fire lanes.
 
ShermanC

ShermanC

ArboristSite Operative
Joined
Jan 25, 2008
Messages
291
Location
Mountain View, AR 2-1/2 hours north of Little Rock
Both. A masticator and/or excavator with one or two ground guys is probably the most effective way to nicely clear brush and small trees. A dozer is quicker but it leaves a much rougher path. Say one guy runs a pole saw and limbs up the trees that are staying and a second guy helps to drag branches out of the way, and later they both slash the stuff around the base of trees that are being kept while the third guy masticates/grubs brush with the machine. If necessary, one or both of the ground guys can aid the masticator by clearing low hanging limbs, dropping trees for the masticator to mulch, etc.
My 30 years of tree service work have taken me down many questionable and challenging paths, adding fuel to the fire in my brain for knowing when to fold or when to hold 'em (Kenny Rodgers' song). I like the answer by Woodslasher.
 
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