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  1. #1
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    Default Reciprocating saw for roof ventilation

    VENTILATION TACTICS FOR PITCHED WOOD ROOFS

    We recently got an 18V cordless Dewalt recip saw for extrication use. I read this article and thought it was a good idea.

    Has anyone ever used a cordless recip saw for cutting a wood roof? How did it work for your department?
    FTM-PTB-DTRT


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber ullrichk's Avatar
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    I've used recip saws plenty of times to cut roofs - but only on my second job, not for ventilation. If I was planning on taking a non-standard ventilation tool to open a wood roof, I would have to consider a cordless circular saw with a carbide demolition blade. There's much smaller probability of ruining the blade mid-cut, depth can be set to avoid compromising structural members, and they're fast.

    For now I'll stick with traditional tools, but I wouldn't say never to the recip saw idea, either.
    ullrichk
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    MembersZone Subscriber bolivas203's Avatar
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    I wouldn't trust a battery powered tool. I will stick w/the gas powered vent saw (chain saw w/ the depth guide). Although if they made a gas powered circular saw w/a reliable blade, I would consider it.......
    Stay alert and be safe.

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    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    Originally posted by bolivas203
    Although if they made a gas powered circular saw w/a reliable blade, I would consider it.......
    They do........ It's called a K-12!!

    Never thought about using the cip saw.......... I'd rather use a chainsaw, but wouldn't rule out the cip, either......

  5. #5
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    The author's idea behind the using the recip saw is that it's supposed to be safer than using a circular or chain saw on a peaked roof. Some departments don't allow use of these saws on a peaked roof because if the saw bucks or hangs up you could lose your balance.

    My department doesn't have this policy however we don't have a circular saw (our auto aid department has a new K-12) and our chainsaw is very old and notoriously hard to start. The Dewalt would not have this problem. We have two batteries for it that are kept in a charger.

    The big issues I could see would be the possibility of blades breaking and that it would most likely be slower than a gas powered saw. I wondered if anyone else had experience with these issues.
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    I'm assuming you use an axe or something to make a starting point for the saw? I've used them plenty of times during construction/deconstruction, just think it'd be much slower than a chainsaw/K12. Also not real keen on how close it will put you to the bad stuff coming out of the hole. Although, it's another tool in the toolbox.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Where I formerly worked was No.1 or 2 in the country in number of wood shingled roofs on PDs.

    The article wasn't completely clear but all they show is cutting of plywood. There are no wood shingles or composite shingles on top of the boards.

    Besides if installed as required by the manufacturer and usually code, the Wood shingles are attached to 1x lumber usually 1/3s spaced accross the roof beams not plywood sheathing. If this is the case uning the butt end of an 8 lbs. flat head axe would enable one to bash through quite readily. Even using the butt end works quite well on plywood as over time water does get in and begins to soften the wood.

    I personally would want a saw which would if working would be gauranteed to be able to cut through multiple layers of built up roofing and wood. Also remember when cutting a roof with fire under it as soon as you cut through fire will begin to vent out, with a recipricating saw you will be very close to the flames.

    FTM-PTB

  8. #8
    Forum Member len1582's Avatar
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    from the article:
    verticle roof ventilation isn't completed until the main body of fire is knocked down
    parargaph 2

    I guess if the building isn't on fire you can try this, and it is lighter than a K-12. But for cutting over a fire you need a powerful,dependable saw with a strong blade that won't snap and doesn't have a battery that can start to die after some use and need to be changed in mid cut.

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    MembersZone Subscriber sbfdco1's Avatar
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    Having only skimmed throught hte article, I would NEVER bring a sawzall to the roof.

    Two quick thoughts, what if you have multiple layers of asphalt shingles? Code here on LI lets you have no more than three layers. Even whit a skill saw it a touch cut.

    So, cutting parrall to the rafters, OK maybe - definitly slower than a partner saw. What about when you need to cut vertical to the rafters, you're going to have to drop the back end of the saw towards the roof to avoid taking the rafter at its most upright position - not easy, very time consuming.

    Just my thoughs.
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    The one thing I have liked about this forum is you here about a lot of great ideas that you can put into your tool box of knowledge. Using a sawzall for roof ventilation is not one I would use or our department. Sawzall's are excellant tools for building construction, and vehicle extracation. When we are tasked with venting a roof it's to be done with safety in mind, and opened as quick as possible, then off the roof.

    Our department ventilation is accomplished with STIHL 044 chain saws with carbide chains. I feel the sawzall will slow down the mission of venting, and delay the interior crews task. The next question is do you carry the extra battery with you should you need to change it out. Just my 2 cents worth. Stay Safe.

  11. #11
    Forum Member jerrygarcia's Avatar
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    I just don't understand the need for power tools on a pitched roof. Nothing replaces quick ventilation and there is no quicker tool than an axe. I have opened many roofs as the roofman on a busy truck company with an axe. A quick hole is appreciated by your inside companies without the need for cutting, then stripping the hole. If conditions are present, fire will vent itself. A 12"x12" hole can be enlarged to 4'x6' without having to be in such close proximity of a power tool. You have the distance and space of the length of your handle. I have seen ventilation crews get spoiled by only using power tools on a roof and lose their ability to act quickly and efficiently with their axe.

    I am not a fan of having a recipricating or circular driven power tool on a pitch. It is just an accident in waiting. Ever had an axe not start? Ever cut a rafter in half? Ever start sliding down a roof?

    Keep the recipricating saws where they are best, extrication.

    Don't be lazy, learn to use your axe.




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    Default Hadn't thought about it before you brought it up

    I guess I hadn't considered using a recip saw for roof ventilation. My biggest concern (as others have stated) would be the potential build-up of multiple layers of roofing material. Occasionally, we might run across a section of roof with 4-5 layers of asphalt shingles (not up to code, but when the homeowner does it himself, what are you going to do?).

    Otherwise, it sounds like it could work well, and that's the key to ventilation - do whatever you can do well.

    Personally, I hate using an axe for ventilation, like jerrygarcia does. Just my personal preference. The axe sometimes seems to 'bounce' when I get between the rafters, and doesn't cut as well. If I've sounded the roof carefully, I can cut a 4' x 4' vent with barely scratching the center supporting rafter. I like to use a common ventilation (chain-style) saw with the depth guide. We have a K-12, but it's a bit unwieldy for me (I'm not a very big guy).

    One other thing that puzzles me...there was a quote from the article that someone posted:

    'verticle roof ventilation isn't completed until the main body of fire is knocked down'

    So, what do you do to ventilate as the attack team is making their initial attack? What if you have a backdraft situation set up, and the only safe way to eliminate that hazard is through vertical ventilation?

  13. #13
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    Default axe vs power tool

    So we all pretty much agree that the sawzall is not the best tool for roof ops. so lets move on to using an axe vs a power tool on the roof.... i agree with fire medic, the K-12 or the quik vent chain saw is a much faster way to open up . I have also opened up many roofs , some with an axe, and have found that its easier to lose your balance swinging an axe on a pitch than with a power saw. Also, a seasoned truckie should be able to use his tool with some advanced skills and feel the rafters while cutting. I'd hate to be that engine co. waiting for vert-vent in a hotroom while the truck comp. is swinging axes on the roof.

  14. #14
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    Having opened roofs both ways,I prefer a "gas axe" to a hand axe the motor doesn't seem to give out as quick.All our saws are "ground fired" before they are ever sent to the roof.Doesn't start?I had it happen twice in 36 years,grab another saw,there is three of 'em on the rig.Industrial roof,I prefer a wheel saw, on a pitched:A Cutters edge.T.C.

  15. #15
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    Using a reciprocating saw for roof ventilation is a bad idea for a number of reasons. First off the blades are very thin
    causing them to hang up easier than a conventional gas saw because they operate at a lower RPM. A result of this is a slower cut and knowing time is of the essence for life safety, it's not practical. Also you have to keep the batteries at 100% charge for peak performance which is impossible even for busy career departments. As stated before making a purchase for cutting is a concern. My volly dept. has an 18v Sawzall for extrication and I have found it to be impractical for this purpose as well. Not saying there isn't a place for them in the fire service, because there is, such as USAR and other specialized situations. But from experience a non battery one works best.
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

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    MembersZone Subscriber jfTL41's Avatar
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    I'm with Rescue101 on this, the sawzall has no place on the roof of a fire building.
    Having instructed hundreds of firefighters on roof operations both peaked and flat using both rotary saws and chain saws, I believe that the safest tool on the market for cutting peaked roofs is the Cutters Edge saw. The guard makes it a better choice than the ventmaster or the quickstop (oh I meant Quick vent). The chain brake and bar length of the Cutters edge afford the firefighter a safer more natural stance on a peaked roof.

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    Not to completely change the subject, but with lightweight truss construction 24" on center and 5/8 OSB do we need to be on the roof or can we find a better spot to vent from.

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    I really woudnt use that saw for a roof operation. Whoever said theres no quicker way then an axe..... I agree. If your going for a quick vent hole an axe and couple other hand tools will do just fine On you normal private dwellings with wooden roofs.
    Firefighting is not just a job, its a way of life........
    IACOJ

    SORRY FELLAS, NO TIKI BAR HERE!

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    Truss construction I dont think you wanna be on the roof at all. Say you arrive on scene in 3 minutes from dispatch, if you have a good fire going under that roof, the integrety is already gone. In my first due we have alof of apartments, condos and even large private dwelling that are truss construction. That is why I like riding a tower-ladder cause i can vent off the bucket
    Firefighting is not just a job, its a way of life........
    IACOJ

    SORRY FELLAS, NO TIKI BAR HERE!

  20. #20
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    Bucket,stick.Either way make mine a gas axe.I've yet to see an axe make a 4x6 quicker than a gas axe unless the gas one wasn't running."Motor" goes bad on the standard axe as operations progress.T.C.

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