National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Hazard Tree - Risk Management


Consider the severity, probability, and exposure of hazard tree problems continually as you perform duties in forested communities. Remember to look for hazard tree risks at staging areas, parking areas, and camping areas.

Environmental Element:

  • Existing winds and forecast.
  • Night operations or low visibility situations limiting your view of surroundings.
  • Steep slopes.
  • Diseased or bug-kill areas with high densities of dead or dying trees.
  • Number, density, and height of hazard trees.
  • Amount of time the area has been burning – burn down time.
  • Potential for domino effect to surrounding trees.

Hazard Tree Indicators:

  • Trees burning for any period of time.
  • High-risk tree species (rot and shallow roots).
  • Numerous downed trees in the area.
  • Dead, broken, or burning tops and limbs overhead.
  • Accumulation of downed limbs.
  • Fungus or growth of decay species on the tree.
  • Cavities or evidence of woodpecker damage.
  • Forked tops, multiple tops, and/or uneven branch distribution.
  • Absence of needles, bark, or limbs.
  • Leaning or hung-up.  

Hazard Control:

  • Eliminate the hazards with qualified sawyers, blasters/explosives, or heavy equipment.
  • Avoid hazards by designating “No Work Zones” (NWZ) – (flag, sign, and map).
  • Modify suppression tactics or fireline location to avoid extreme/high risk rated area.
  • Post lookouts to help maintain a secure area.
  • Fireproof potential hazard trees to prevent ignition.
  • Initiate road/traffic control and area closure.
  • Keep clear of bucket drops near trees/snags.
  • Establish trigger points for reposition to secure areas in response to high winds.
  • Minimize exposure time in hazard tree areas using efficient felling techniques and limiting numbers of personnel in hazardous areas.


Felling Safety
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Oct 2022

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