Basic Faller

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FAL3 Basic Faller Incident Position Description

NOTE: This Incident Position Description (IPD) is under development. Learn more about IPDs and other NWCG improvement efforts on our Systems Improvement Page. Please contribute to this effort by providing feedback via the Comment button on this page.


The Basic Faller (FAL3) is an entry-level chainsaw operator that serves as a member of a firefighting crew or module. The FAL3 engages in low complexity fireline saw operations, including tree felling, bucking, brushing, and limbing. The FAL3 reports to a Firefighter Type 1 (FFT1) or one of the Single Resource Bosses (FELB, CRWB, ENGB, FIRB, HMGB). The FAL3 works in the Operations functional area.
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Prepare and Mobilize

  • Remain mentally and physically fit.
  • Ensure individual and equipment readiness:
    • Fully functional and maintained chainsaw
    • Saw chaps
    • 3 to 5-pound axe
    • Wedges
    • Bar wrench/files/raker gauge
    • Saw kit
  • Gather critical information pertinent to the assignment.
  • Travel to and check in at the assignment.

Build the Team

  • Model leadership values and principles. Provide a positive influence. Emphasize teamwork and willingness to learn.

Perform Basic Faller-Specific Duties

  • Mitigate hazards and perform low complexity fireline chainsaw operations, i.e., fireline construction, felling, brushing, thinning, bucking, and limbing.
  • Identify some signs of complexity related to saw operations and articulate aspects with a potential to affect the saw operation; always consult more experienced sawyer or supervisor when complexity level is unknown; never engage in saw operations outside current certification level.
  • Participates in saw operation briefings.
  • Follow safe working distances and practices using utilizing swamper(s) during low complexity saw operations.
  • Follow safe working conditions and guidelines provided by your supervisor.
  • Know how to perform basic saw maintenance during field conditions.
  • Be open to feedback and continued training by FAL1 and FAL2 sawyers.
  • Communicate, report, and avoid unsafe conditions.
  • Safely mitigate the following conditions:
    • Sound wood fiber.
    • Fall straight trees, in open areas, with no obstructions.
    • Buck logs on flat ground.
    • Fall trees with the lean when less than2 to 3’ is present.
    • Two escape paths available and/or cover.
    • Single undercut.
    • Bucking with little to no binds present or binds that are easily observed and mitigated.
    • Low release of energy.

Common Sawyer Duties

  • Participate in saw operation area briefings.
  • Operate within current certification and qualification level, except during formal evaluation proceedings or under the immediate supervision of a higher qualified sawyer.
  • Adhere to all established safety procedures for chainsaw operations.
  • Establish and maintain cutting area control. Ensure 2½ tree lengths distance from other personnel when felling and that your work area is clear.
  • Perform individual tree size-up before engaging in any saw operation that includes analyzing hazards, defects, lean(s), determining lay of the tree, description of escape routes, and cut plan.
  • Fuel chainsaw before starting any cuts and have wedging tools readily available when felling hazard trees.
  • Conduct warning shout (Falling!) before a backcut is started, and again as a tree begins to commit to the lay.
  • Cut and remove fuels to reduce fuel continuity to lower the threat of fire spread and reduce exposure to improved properties.
  • Buck and scatter burning material for mopup.
  • Complete a bucking assessment before bucking and select a good position for safe bucking.
  • Buck and scatter burning material for mopup.
  • Cut material to a size that is moveable by hand.
  • Adhere to established safe fueling procedures to mitigate the risk of fuel geysering.
  • Continually strive to improve; learn from others and develop a safe attitude and habits.

Communicate and Coordinate

  • Before engaging, receive a thorough briefing from the appropriate supervisor addressing all saw operation specifications and associated expectations.
  • Establish positive communication with swampers, crew, and supervisor.
  • Participate in briefings and After Action Reviews (AARs).

Manage Risk

  • Operate within your skill level and turn down any saw operation you feel is unsafe or when the complexity is higher than your certification or ability.
  • Apply the Risk Management Process as stated in the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461:
    • Identify Hazards
    • Assess Hazards
    • Develop Controls and Make Risk Decisions
    • Implement Controls
  • Know when to ask for assistance and how to refuse unsafe work.
  • Comply with all safety practices and agency established standard chainsaw operating procedures.
  • Plan for medical emergencies. Ensure you are prepared to execute the Medical Plan (ICS 206 WF). Ensure familiarity with medical responders, communication procedures, and the transportation plan. Manage the medical emergency based on procedures stated in the Incident Action Plan (IAP), Medical Incident Report, or other relevant guidelines.
  • Identify situations that exceed faller’s skill level.
  • Identify hazards inherent with wildland urban interface (WUI) during chainsaw operations.
  • Consult immediate supervisor when unfamiliar or unusually hazardous conditions exist and seek supervisor's approval before cutting is commenced.
  • Ensure hazard trees are identified, communicated, and avoided until it is mitigated. This includes snags, hung up, and lodged trees.
    • If the hazard tree is not able to be felled or removed, it shall be flagged, and no work shall be conducted within two tree lengths.
  • Report all accidents, injuries, or near misses to supervisor.
  • Use and maintain all required chainsaw personal protection equipment (PPE), saw safety features, and accompanying tools.


  • Receive and follow demobilization instruction from supervisor.


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