"Cutting Straight to the Truth"


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All volunteers, students, etc., who operate chainsaws within the scope of their duties will be trained and

certified. All those who have not met the requirements of this policy shall not operate chainsaws EXCEPT for training purposes and only then under the direct supervision of a person approved, in writing, by a Chainsaw Certification Coordinator.


A Risk Assessment or Job Hazard analysis must be accomplished prior to any chainsaw use, including any field work as well as training.


This policy is established not to encourage large-scale, complex falling activity by Valley Chainsaw volunteers on a regular basis, but to provide for the safety of the volunteers who use chainsaws and fall trees on a limited or occasional basis.




It is recognized that the volunteer chainsaw operation is a hazardous operation essential to accomplishing the  mission of cutting, clearing and removing debris. The purpose of this policy is to provide direction for the safety of all volunteers operating chainsaws in the performance of their duties.




All  personnel who operate chainsaws in performance of their duties are required to meet the standards set forth in this policy.


The standards set forth in this policy meet or exceed the national standards. Volunteers who are certified under this policy will be recognized under the Valley chainsaw operator policy.


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There are several levels of responsibility which are necessary to ensure safe and effective operation of chainsaws by employees.


Director / NEON VEST on site

Responsible for issuing policy and providing for staff support and resources necessary to implement policy requirements. Responsible for issuing additional policy if local conditions  Certification Coordinator, commitment to training/certification, and compliance with and administration of the policy.


Field Office Manager/Division Chief

Responsible for implementation of state and district policy at the Field Office or Division level. This individual has the ultimate authority in determining whether or not an employee will be trained and certified as a chainsaw operator and to what class of certification. Responsible for communicating training/certification requests from first-line supervisors to the District/OSO Certification Coordinator.



Responsible to ensure volunteer operators are provided with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and trained/certified for the tasks they are expected to perform involving chainsaws. This includes monitoring of volunteers assigned tasks, forwarding requests for operator and completing an employee job hazard analysis.


When hazardous practices or at-risk behaviors are observed by the first-line supervisor or reported to him/her by another employee, it is their responsibility to immediately intervene to correct the situation. This may involve revoking the employee's operator certification.



Responsible to wear and maintain their personal protective equipment (PPE) and operate chainsaws only within the scope of their duties, certification and ability. The ultimate responsibility for personal safety rests with the employee. This includes the right to refuse an assignment for a task beyond the volunteers certification, judgment, and/or ability.



Responsible for ensuring operators are certified at a level commensurate with their demonstrated ability and experience as described in the Chainsaw Certification Policy. The certifier has complete authority to limit the scope of the certification commensurate with the volunteers demonstrated ability and experience. This means the certifier may impose time, project, or size limitations at their discretion and shall have the authority to revoke certification at any time.


Certifiers must demonstrate satisfactory communication skills and the ability to transfer and relate concepts to others. They must also possess current knowledge of policy and regulations pertaining to chainsaws and related equipment.


Certification Coordinator

The Certification Coordinator is also responsible for the training and certification of certifiers. Responsible for management, coordination and facilitation of the Valley Chainsaw Program at the field level.


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Operators are required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) while operating chainsaws. Each chainsaw placed into service must be equipped with a chain brake and must otherwise meet the requirements of ANSI B175.1-1991 "Safety Requirements for Gasoline-Powered Chainsaws" and the requirements of this policy. All PPE will meet appropriate  standards as set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Bureau.


The following minimum PPE is required for chainsaw operators:


  • Hardhat
  • Eye protection
  • Hearing protection
  • Gloves
  • Chainsaw chaps
  • Non-skid boots/shoes (lug soles or caulks)
  • Appropriate field attire


All chainsaws, axes and wedges used by Valley Chainsaw volunteers will meet or exceed appropriate safety standards.


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Operators will be certified in accordance with Valley Chainsaw Certification Policy. Certification records will be kept on file.


Classroom Instruction

Initial classroom instruction shall typically last 6 to 8 hours. The certifier shall introduce and review Valley Chainsaw policy and procedures, proper maintenance and care of a chainsaw, proper chainsaw technique (brushing, bucking and felling), and the use of required PPE.


Field Exam

The field exam portion of the certification process shall be under the guidance and supervision of a certifier. The session shall focus on the hands-on chainsaw operation in the practices of felling, brush cutting, and bucking of material not to exceed 8 inches in diameter.


At the end of the course, the students will be required to complete a written exam and a field test successfully to obtain the certification. Any required additional field training will be determined by the certifier based on the trainee's previous experience and field examination.


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All operators/certifiers will be re-certified as follows:


  • All Volunteers Not to Exceed TWO Years
  • Re-certification will consist of a minimum of two hours classroom review and a minimum of two hours of field-tested exercises under the supervision of a certifier.


It is recognized that a diameter limit is not the only measure of an employee's skill when falling and bucking. The emphasis in recertification is to be placed on demonstrated ability and knowledge. The refresher shall include but not be limited to the following:


  • General Safety
  • Equipment and Standards
  • Educational Resources and Materials Field Exercises


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