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Power Saw Use

Wildland fires can ignite through the careless operation, refueling or maintenance of power saws. To reduce the chances of a fire starting, there are simple precautions to take. When cutting, do not put unneeded pressure on the chain, which can create excessive heat. When the time comes to refuel, oil or other mechanical work on the saw, let the
saw cool first. If the saw has to be serviced and must be laid on its side and it is possible that hot surfaces touch the ground, ensure that nothing flammable lies underneath. Perhaps most importantly, move the saw at least 20 feet from the refueling area before starting it again.

Saw Maintenance

An adequate spark arresting screen on a saw’s exhaust port can prevent fires and is required by state law under ORS 477.640 and OAR 629-43-036. Proper screens have a maximum mesh size of 0.023 inches, and are made of heat and corrosion resistant wiring of 0.013 inches or larger diameter. The screen must cover at least 125 percent of the port area and be positioned for easy service. These rules apply to any portable saw powered by an internal combustion engine and used on or within 1/8 mile of forest land. Saws used on logging operations, in addition to having good spark arresters, must be certified to meet exhaust temperature standards. Keeping a sharp chain and a straight guide bar are also important in the prevention of fires - they lead to a faster, cleaner cut and eliminate the need to cut in one spot for a very long time. This reduces friction, heat buildup and the amount of time one spot is exposed to hot saw exhaust. Cutters who are uncertain their saw meets legal standards or who need assistance with any type of saw maintenance can consult a local saw shop. Any after-market, performance-enhancing modifications are prohibited.

Required Fire Tools

Every operating powersaw must be accompanied by a shovel of size 0 (standard) or larger and a fire extinguisher of at least eight ounce capacity. These tools must be immediately available for the saw operator to use in case the saw should cause a fire. It is much easier and less costly to use these tools to extinguish a fire when it is still small than to be caught unprepared and call for help from firefighters - the potential costs for extra crews, helicopters and retardant can be very high. All tools should be stored out of the weather when they are not in use, maintained year-round and replaced when necessary.

Fire Precautionary Levels

Powersaw operators are regulated under two fire precaution systems. The first regulatory system is the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL), which consists of four closure levels. Level 1 (I) thru Level 4 (IV). For more details on these closure see our Industrial Fire Precautionary Level (Descriptions). These Levels change many times throughout the fire season, check with one of our CFPA offices or call our Closure Line (541) 267-1789 for up to date information.

At any time during closed fire season, a fire watch must be maintained at cutting sites for three hours after all saw use has ceased for the day.

The second regulatory system affecting powersaw use is Regulated Use Closures. The private, non-commercial use of a powersaw is regulated by this system. Regulated Use Closure can be initiated at any time during closed fire season. Check with one of our CFPA offices or call our Closure Line (541) 267-1789 for up to date information. Signs posted in heavy use areas and coverage by the news media will also alert saw users and other forest users to current restrictions.

At any time during closed fire season, a fire watch must be maintained at cutting sites for a minimum of one hour after all saw use has ceased for the day.

Powersaw Use and Fire Danger

The Problem

Several wildland fires typically start each summer in the Coos District from the private and industrial use of powersaws. A saw’s exhaust system can emit hot particles, if not properly screened and maintained, and ignite ground fires. The heat and friction involved in the operation of a powersaw can cause fires in numerous other ways as well. These fires can spread fast, rage out of control and require extensive suppression efforts by wildland firefighters. Unlike lightning-caused fires or other accidental human-caused fires, powersaw fires can all be prevented if saw users have the proper training and equipment.

The Potential Results

Wildland fires can be very destructive. The recent influx of homes into forested areas, called the urban forest interface, has put more lives, homes and private property at risk from fire than ever before. This interface area is where a great deal of private woodcutting and small woodlands logging takes place. Any fire that starts in the Coos District interface areas has the potential to burn valuable timber and grazing resources. These fires also put people and their homes in great danger.

The Solution

Preventing fires caused by powersaws is a simple matter of making all saw operators, whether veteran tree fallers or occasional backyard wood cutters, aware of the dangers presented by their actions. Once aware of the risks and the steps they can take to minimize the danger, saw operators can help to virtually eliminate all accidental powersaw fires.

Be Fire- Safe When You Operate A Powersaw!

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