National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Hazard Tree Felling - Hang-ups

Felling Safety
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Feb 2022


hazard-tree-hang-ups. Photograph looking up into tree tops and seeing one tree leaning up against another.Felling a hung-up hazard tree is a particularly hazardous and complex task. Safely felling a hang-up requires extreme caution and expertise.

The following are some topics sawyers should review during tailgate safety discussions to address felling hang-up hazard trees:

Size up and Evaluation:

  • Cut/No Cut (walk-away). Is tree secure and does it need to come down?
  • What type of hang-up? In a fork, pinched between two trees, or resting on limbs?
  • Vertical hang-ups have increased complexities.
  • Condition of all relevant trees live, dead, rot, etc. Does the hang-up tree have any weak areas that could fail?
  • Obscured view of top?
  • If sawyer is unsure of the outcome, do not attempt to cut a leaner.

Operational Considerations:

  • Escape routes for unforeseen circumstances?
  • Consider falling trees as a group.
  • Consider face cuts versus slash cuts for directional control.
  • Rope technique allows increased distance from danger zones.

Alternative Mitigations:

  • Blasting.
  • Heavy equipment/cable.
  • No Work Zones.

Discuss any personal lessons learned with hang-up trees that you may have experienced.


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
10 Standard Firefighting Orders, PMS 110 
18 Watch Out Situations, PMS 118
10 & 18 Poster, PMS 110-18
NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center


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