Chainsaw Safety 1

Felling Safety
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Mar 2018


Recently, several accidents and near misses involving leakage of chainsaw fuel, vapor lock/tank pressurization, and fuel spray have occurred. Firefighters should remember that fuel leakage, vapor lock/tank pressurization, and potential fuel spray can occur at any time when utilizing chainsaws. Fuel can become pressurized in any container that does not automatically vent pressure and can spray out whenever the pressure is released rapidly.

For firefighters working near ignition sources, having fuel on your clothing or skin presents a significant hazard. Personal Protective Equipment, even flame-resistant clothing, does not provide protection when fuel-soaked PPE ignites. Fuel saw at least 10 feet from any potential ignition source.

  • Assume all gas powered equipment and fuel transport containers are pressurized! Treat them accordingly when opening, especially when near any potential ignition source.

  • Chainsaw operators: Review reports associated with recent incidents (Rock Ridge Accident Investigation, Dry Creek Near Miss, Willow Peak Fire Burn Injury Rapid Lesson Sharing and others) to learn how to avoid similar occurrences.

  • Chainsaw operators: Watch this short safety video for information on preventing fuel leakage, identification of potential vapor lock/tank pressurization, mitigation measures for vapor lock/tank pressurization, and reporting procedures for future occurrences.​

  • Firefighters report future occurrences of vapor lock/tank pressurization, fuel spray, and fuel leakage – even if no one is injured! Specific information (make/model/serial number of chainsaw, ambient air temperature, elevation, and fuel used) should be included so that further evaluation of potential safety issues can occur.  Please use the fuel geyser incident reporting form.

Lessons Lost

Rapid Lesson Sharing 

OSHA Fact Sheet


Also see: Chainsaw Safety 2


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
PMS 461: Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG)
PMS 510: Interagency Helicopter Operations Guide (IHOG)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)

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