Fire Management
Advisory Team
Fire Management
Fire Manager
Burn Boss (RxB2)
Incident Commander
Type 4 (ICT4)
Burn Boss (RxB3)
Single Resource Boss
Squad Boss (FFT1)
Firefighter (FFT2)
RX Crew Member
Chainsaw Operator
ATV Operator (ATVO)
Fire Planner
Fire Observer

  Chainsaw Operator

The Chainsaw Operator uses a chainsaw to complete fire management activities, including burn unit preparation, fire operations, mop-up and hazard mitigation. The following standards are designed to ensure chainsaw safety and proficiency have been taught and exhibited in a consistent manner across the entire Conservancy fire organization.

These standards apply to Conservancy personnel working on Conservancy fires. The standards also meet current standards for most Department of the Interior land management agencies. Conservancy personnel who are dispatched to wildland fires or all-risk assignments and will be paid under the Federal Administratively Determined (AD) pay schedule become an employee of the hiring agency and must meet requirements of that agency. The US Forest Service currently has certification levels that differ from the ones noted above and under that standard an A-faller is an apprentice who must be supervised by a B or C faller.

These standards apply to personnel working on Conservancy fires. They are only relevant to non-fire stewardship activities if adopted by local Operating Unit.

Required Training

Fire Managers are responsible for training or providing training for personnel who will be operating saws for fire management activities. Fire Managers will also maintain records of training certification for all staff operating saws. Training must meet the following objectives:

  1. List and apply chainsaw safety standards as required by OSHA.
  2. Incorporate the approved use and maintenance of PPE for chainsaw use.
  3. Identify basic chainsaw parts, nomenclature, maintenance, tuning, troubleshooting and safety features.
  4. Demonstrate field maintenance tasks required for chainsaw operation.
  5. Demonstrate the tactical application of chainsaws in brushing, limbing, bucking and falling, according to programmatic needs.

The NWCG course Wildland Fire Chain Saws (S-212) meets all of the above requirements, but other chainsaw use and safety training developed by the chainsaw industry or third party vendors are acceptable if they cover the requisite training objectives. Individual field evaluation of student knowledge, skills and abilities is a requirement regardless of the training course. The S-212 Field Evaluation Form or an equivalent must be used by instructors to judge student ability.

Instructors must be certified by a state agency or vendor, or minimally meet the qualification of B faller. Lead Instructor for the S-212 course should be current as both B faller and Single Resource Boss or above. Unit or field instructors for S-212 should be technically proficient in the subject matter.

Qualification Level

Recommendation for Conservancy qualification level of A, B or C will be made by the instructor for the individual student based on the instructor's qualifications and the student's demonstrated ability.

  • An A faller is competent felling trees to 12" dbh and of low complexity
  • A B faller is competent felling trees to 24" dbh and/or of moderate complexity
  • A C faller is competent felling trees over 24" and/or complex felling situations

Certification must be documented in writing and kept on file with the person's other fire management qualifications documents.

Position Currency

A chainsaw operator must maintain currency by completing a field evaluation at least once every five years. Peer evaluation is acceptable.

Personal Protective Equipment

The following personal protective equipment will be used during chainsaw operations:

  • Approved Hardhat (met by requirements for fire management ops)
  • Eye protection
  • Gloves
  • Cut resistant, non-skid boots (met by requirements for fire management ops)
  • Hearing protection, adequate at 85 Decibels minimum
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Chainsaw chaps that overlap top of boot


All fallers, no matter what certification level, are expected to exercise caution and good judgment in determining whether they have the competency level to fell any individual tree. There are some situations where the appropriate choice is to choose an alternative to attempting to cut a hazardous tree.

All fallers, no matter what certification level, are expected to follow safe practices taught in training, including compliance with OSHA requirements such as having appropriate First Aid Kit(s) on-site, having each faller performing work be in a position or location that is within visual or audible contact of another person, and having at least crew leader or lead faller at a work site current in First Aid and CPR Training.

Last updated November 20, 2012.

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