1. #1
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    Default Faller Classifications

    As a S-212 instructor I am curious of what other instructors consider a Class B faller besides the recommendations put forth by NCWG. I find it hard to give out a class b permit to guys that just don't have the expertise needed, and im not sure if it's just that I am being to hard on them. I have been a timber faller for 20 yrs before I started doing this, for a little background. I have seen many accidents during my years and cant emphasize enough to students how dangerous this is. But yet every class I teach I have guys coming up and wanting to get signed off on there class b but I usually deny them saying they need more practice. So if there are any instructors out there or guys that are class b or c fallers would like to throw in what they had to do, go ahead on her. Im all ears.
    Thanks
    burn
    Burn<br />LT/EMT/Inst />Central Mat-Su FD<br />Wasilla Alaska

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    As an SRBC/E I had to go through the whole gambit. I went though it when I was an SRBE with the state of Oregon and again when I went over into the contracting world. I had to go through all of the class work AND above everything else, I had to go through the practical hours. There were no excuses.

    Like yourself I too have seen accidents and most were very preventable. I also have seen the people you speak of. The guys that want this and want that because of the general misconecption of "I have taken this class, I am now a QUALIFIED blah blah blah " without putting forth the neccessary PRACTICAL aspects.

    I commend you for standing up and saying no to these guys. I know it can be hard. But, I always remember having a first year person on my crew that I said no to once. They bragged and bragged about being an "A" faller, obviously not knowing the classification scale. They wanted to cut down a pretty bad widow maker which was between a B and a C, can't remember now. I said no and they whooped and howled about it until they actually caused the rest of the crew to get upset. I know if I would have let this guy fall that tree, I probably would have been attending his funeral.

    Remember when you say no your saying no because YOU, the instructor, not the student, don't feel comfortable in someones capabilities. And you just might be saving a life more often then you think. Good luck with the teaching.
    Last edited by Mechanic; 02-12-2005 at 02:32 AM.

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    I took the S-212 in the fall of last year. I am hoping to obtain by feller B card some time before the age of not being able to get up the mountain. I inquired from a C feller as the requirements for B and here is what I got. He stated at a minimal felling 40 trees in the presence of a B or C just to get the feel of different types of trees. Also he wants me to do a couple of tours, as a swampier on a felling team not line construction. Thankfully He is a friend of mine and he can spend the time with me. I have also been in a contact with a couple harvest areas and am allowed to go in there and practice when there are not working. However something else bothered me in the class. There seemed to be a lot of people in the class that were in my opinion not possessing the maturity to even hold a saw.

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    I took S212 last March, and got my B Faller signed off at the end of this summer. We had a C Faller on our crew, and I worked with her and probably cut over 100 trees. I think a lot depends on the person, but I agree with not handing out a B certification after completing the class. We actually used the BLM taskbook, and had to get signed off on so many trees.

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    To me one of the most critical factors for signing off a B faller is that the faller recognizes their own skill level and is willing to say, no that tree is beyond my ability. I think part of the problem is that the gap from A to B is huge, it does not take that much skill to "master" the A level (bucking and limbing) even in one season if involved with fuels projects so there is pressure on the faller and the supervisor to get the faller to the B level, but the B level takes them up to some pretty big trees. Ideally there would be a level between A and B allowing the faller to cut trees larger than the 6-8" of the A but smaller than the 36" of the B. There is also the matter of practice material, it is not practical to take every B faller out to cut 100 trees, I'm a B but have probably cut 1/2 that number of large trees at best, I am perfectly comfortable cutting 20" trees but I'm not going to take a tree over 30" unless it is a pretty straight forward operation, I'm going to get somebody more experienced if I am not confident the tree is within my skill level.
    There is also the issue of geography, a C faller in an area where a 44" tree is a monster is not the same as a C faller on the California coast where they may regularly see trees 60" or larger. Then there is the difference in types too, falling a wide canopy tree like an oak is not the same as a narrow tree like a pine and a Eucalyptus is different from both so do you tell somebody working in an area with one type of tree that they can't get signed off because there isn't enough variety?

    Again it will have to come to your judgement, will this sawyer recognize his or her limitations and act appropriately?
    Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 02-20-2005 at 08:05 AM.

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    If I remember right the B certification only goes to trees less than 24" dbh. I agree with you that the person has to realize what their limitations are and be willing to back away from a tree and get some help. I know I have left a few for someone else.
    Last summer we had a guy on our crew that was an A faller, and had worked at Sequoia the year before, he was a great faller and could easily handle the 30+ inch, trees. Then we had a guy that was a B, but couldn't handle anything over 12". It depends a lot on the person. When we started last year we all went through a refresher, and you had to "recertify" for the agency I was working for. It allowed them to see where everyone was with their cutting and to know their comfort level. Just because someone has the certification doesn't mean they should be doing the job.

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    Default Classification

    Thanks for the replies, keep them coming. According to the NCWG this is how it goes:
    Class A - Fall, limb, buck trees 10 inches and under.
    Class B - Fall trees up to 20 inches.
    Class C - 20 and up
    We all have to start somewhere, we all have. One thing that is a definite factor is the mature aspect that father mentioned. Some have more then others. One thing I find is when I see a good faller one year and I see he has great potential the next year they might be a squad boss or might have found another job. Or they might be taken off the sawyers crew. And who is to blame them more money is the name of the game. I have had quite a few in class that I recommended that they not even use the saw, this is tough but its reality.
    Mech sounds like you know exactly where im coming from sounds like you made a good decision, hard to do I know.
    The gap between A and B is definately the wide one, I agree with Nonsurf. As a good faller knows, little trees are just as much of killers as the big boys if not more. So its important that they understand this, they think cause they can lay one on the ground the way it leans that they are pros, just not the case.

    My idea of a class B faller:

    At least a season doing project work running saw or on a bunch of fires as a sawyer...not swamper & S-212.

    Ability to judge the lean of a tree(s). Identify snags, how to check for rot before falling, able to file - big one, establishing a plan - opening a hole - what to cut first etc. And more...

    Ability to do at least two different types of wedging trees over against there lean, correctly with no mistakes. Nothing to out of the ordinary for trees, I try to make it somewhat simple.

    Demonstrate taking a tree down that sets back.

    Cutting mulitple trees in a given time and bucking and limbing them. Im sure I will get some flack for this one, but I give them a reasonable time, not like production. Keeping them in lead.

    Demonstrating proper face and back cuts.

    Explain what to do in situations like a hung up saw, trees hung up, etc. or demonstrate.

    Thats my short list off the top of my head.
    Skill Level - This is something that I think is hard to concieve for some people, especially young people. I emphasize this in class often but you know how that goes.
    Gotta go
    burn
    Burn<br />LT/EMT/Inst />Central Mat-Su FD<br />Wasilla Alaska

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    I received my (Intermediate Sawyer) B cert about two weeks after the first time I had ever started a saw. In my case a Stihl 044. One of the overhead on my crew was a C faller and had signed everyone off as a B faller. I had never felt very comfortable even handling the saw until after about 100 hrs of saw time on thinning projects.Due to requirements that everyone on the crew needed to be a B Faller + to participate in the district's thinning projects we all simply became B fallers. Not smart.Some of my friends who work in other districts and forests are totally dismayed by my B cert because many of them have worked 2-4 seasons w/o getting their B cert signed off. Standardization of certs is preached throughout the agency but implementation is still off the mark

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    They seem to change the standards every couple of years, the last time I recertified as I recall it was A 6-8", B up to 36" and C anything bigger. I know the smallest tree I fell to recertify was just barely small enough to be done single cut using an 044 with a 24" bar and the last time I had to double cut with an 064 that had a 32" bar on it. Who knows maybe the certifyers were screwing with me.

    Still I say maturity, general experince and having the confidence to say no plays as much a part as actual skill, at least when it comes to fireline falling. If somebody has a hissy fit because you won't certify them they probably don't meet the standards. On the other hand I wouldn't expect perfection from a B faller either, they will make mistakes, I would say the main thing to evaluate is not their ability to make a perfect cut but how they handle the mistakes when they occur, do they recognize them and correct them on their own, do they stop and say I screwed this one up and I don't think I can safely fix this, here you go Mr (or MS) C faller or do they just blindly contnue on until you step in. Certainly skill in properly sizing up a tree for lean, rot etc should be well developed at this level, if the faller can't size up the tree how will they be able to determine if it is within their skill level.

    Its a hard call, unskilled fallers will eventually get themselves or someone else killed, but at some point you have to let people go out on their own so they can continue develop their skills on their own, deciding where that line is I am sure is tough.

    Burn, that seems like a reasonable set of tasks. Its tougher than anything I went through but not unreasonable. The experience level seems quite reasonable, I just don't see how a faller can be comfortable enough with a saw to even think about falling big stuff until they have had a couple hundred hours running a saw, and really when you think about it you're only talking about 1-2 months of moderate use such as you would see on a fuels project (4 hours a day 3 days a week is 120 hours a month) so it is not really an unreasonable expectation and it provides ample time to understand how the saw works, get familiar with maintenance, learn to tell how the saw is operating by sound and feel etc.
    Last edited by NonSurfinCaFF; 02-23-2005 at 05:23 AM.

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