I took a couple of videos on the job recently to show the Feller-buncher and the Delimber just for fun.
I really did not want to do this assignment, but did it anyway. I could not breath very well in there. It was like working in a smoky hot oven with wind blowing smoke and sawdust in your eyes but you had to keep your stinging eyes open to keep a visual on the tree – your life depended upon it.
You may notice I back-barred the undercut. This is when you use the wrong side of the bar and don’t use the side with the dogs that is made for digging in to the wood.
The reason was it is easier to not bend over that way and I could focus more on watching the tree up high where I was worried it might burn in two and send down some burning chunks. If you have visual on a catastrophic event, you may barely have time to move out of harm’s way.
I also was moving my bar in and out while cutting the undercut. This is because the snag is rotten and sometimes a rotten snag will tip over while you are putting in the undercut before you are ready for a more controlled felling situation such as when you are able to put in a back cut. By moving my bar in and out of the undercut slightly, I can feel more easily if my saw is being pinched and get it out before the wild action of the rotten snag occurs.
Also when I was running out of there after the tree started to go, I instinctively started to set down my saw to give a little more speed to the escape procedure but then realized I would be setting it in the flames and was afraid it would burn up so I held on to it. When you see that part it was just a quick move with setting the saw almost down and then aborting that action, but just in that moment while I was making my run for safety, I realized that by not setting down the saw I increased my personal risk slightly by slowing me down with the cumbersome saw while running away. I compared that risk with the more probable occurrence of setting my saw on fire or melting something and made my choice on the run. All is well that ends well.
I hope you find all this interesting as well as the excitement of the video :).
I narrate this firefighting video pretty well, I think and might enter it into next years Film Fest competition locally. I was falling Timber with Darvin, my falling partner who cut down this tree. I think he might have been a little nervous, but he did it anyway, which is what we get paid to do. We are allowed to turn down an “assignment” on the fire, and we do but not too often – probably less than 1%. This type of tree which instills a bit of trepidation is more rare on the fires and we probably turn down somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 to 10% of these type of trees. We call it “calculated risk” where we think the odds are in our favor of surviving the assignment.
Timber fallers are rather fearless. It is not exactly that because the fear is in the background tugging away, but it is more of a thrill and dare-devil mentality. I have been called a “cowboy” by a smoke-jumper and most firefighters think of smoke-jumpers as cowboys. Smoke-jumpers are firefighters who parachute out of airplanes onto a fire in remote locations to sometimes single-handedly put out a fire. The word “cowboy” refers to gratuitous risk taking.