FRIDAY FORUM: Axe Always Starts

Even with the best tool care and preparation, things can go sideways on the fireground.  If my notes are correct, I’ve had four saw failures due to either blown chainsaw chains or debris binding on rotary saws.  They were each a little different, with interesting lessons.

Blown Chain 1: Operating on a flat roof single story commercial structure, I’d completed several successful cuts through only wood structural components when my chainsaw struck a random piece of angle iron and threw my chain.  Most of the work done, looking closer it was apparent that there were numerous types of roofing material involved in this structure.  Roofs over roofs, random patch jobs, everything.  Chainsaws don’t like serious metal.  Keep an eye out.

Rotary Fail 1: Venting basement jobs by cutting a hole bennethe a first floor window then hydraulically venting out that window is a great tactic, but it's not without its rules.  MOST important, you must rip up the carpet first and make sure you have a clear area to cut, which can be difficult in smoky, cluttered environments.  On this job, I thought I had, and I’d completed ¾ of the cut when the blade snagged an edge of carpet, rapidly sucking thread into the saw and shutting her down.  It only takes a little thread to quiet a powerful saw!

Blown Chain 2:  While working with other members to complete a trench cut on a smokey roof at night, another member working near me with a rotary saw ran his blade into my chainsaw, immediately knocking the chain from the bar and damaging it beyond repair.  Be careful with your spatial awareness when operating near other saws!

Rotary Fail 2:  Working on a peaked roof, I was making great progress when my saw blade struck the wire frame of duct work in the attic that had been attached just under the decking, immediately sucking the wire into the saw.  Not only was it out of service, but it took quite a bit of time to fix back at the firehouse. (photo)  

Moral of the story: keep an eye out for oddities that could interrupt your cutting operation, and always have an axe.  It never gets jammed and always starts. 

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