National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Hazard Tree Secure Felling Area

Forest road with sign blocking road reading falling area positively no entrance.

The following fundamental safety principles for tree felling operations have been established based on repeated lessons learned following serious accidents. To protect sawyers, swampers, and operational personnel from exposure to potential traumatic injury or death during tree felling operations, the following safety procedures should be applied to all felling activities. Fireline supervisors should continue to monitor all felling operations to ensure the following safe job procedures are consistently applied:

  • A secure felling area, MINIMUM OF TWO AND ONE HALF (2.5) TIMES THE HEIGHT OF THE MATERIAL BEING FELLED IN ALL DIRECTIONS, needs to be established and maintained by the faller during all tree felling operations. In addition, the entire downhill side on slopes must be secured if materials can fall/role for a long, unpredictable distance.
  • No one shall be permitted in the secured felling area without the authorization of the faller.
  • The faller shall establish a safety zone outside the secured area and direct EVERYONE to remain there until all felling is completed and an "all clear" has been communicated.
  • Safety zones should be established, whenever practical, in the opposite direction of the planned fall, and at a distance of at least 2.5 times the height of the trees being felled.
  • The faller shall assign lookout(s). The lookout(s) shall have reliable communications with the faller, and other personnel adjacent to the secure areas.
  • Competent lookouts shall be established and maintained by the faller at all major access points of roads and trails that afford access to the secured felling area.
  • The faller will ensure that no hazards remain such as hang-ups, unstable logs, or other dangers before approving access or leaving the secured area.


Felling Safety
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Mar 2022

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