#08-285 Event Description Brackets [ ] in this report denote identifying information removed by the reviewer. The incident information described in the narrative was part of a Safety Bulletin that was sent out by the reporting department. We recently had a near miss where one of our captains performing ventilation operations escaped serious injury while operating at a structure fire with active fire below. The information below is the saw operator's own words: Conditions: Fire and smoke on the ground floor in a room under construction with extension into the siding and roofing material. Mild to moderate smoke conditions in the building and on the roof. Narrative: Upon arrival, the command was given by the IC to initiate a four person ventilation operation. I dismounted the apparatus and put on my SCBA. I removed the chain saw from the compartment and started it to assure the saw was operating properly. I obtained a hook and advanced to the ladder on the side of the fire building. I once again started the saw to assure that it was operating properly. Due to the smoke conditions, I put my SCBA mask on and started breathing air. I then put my hose strap around the saw and put it on my right shoulder. I advanced up the ladder to the roof. Once I was up on the roof, I started the saw and engaged the chain brake. The saw was idling at this time. Captain [name deleted] was sounding the roof as we advanced toward the point that was selected to cut the ventilation hole. Captain [name deleted] marked the outline of the hole to be cut with his hook. (continued next slide)
#08-285 Event Description (continued) At this point the saw was beginning to die so I released the chain brake and applied full throttle. I did this to keep the saw from dying as I advanced to the marked point to begin cutting the ventilation hole. At this point, the saw tip was pointed at the flat roof surface and my vision was directed to the point of the saw and the flat roof surface. As I advanced forward with the saw running, I was revving the throttle with the chain brake off. I advanced into the lower rear portion of Captain [name deleted] right leg with the tip of the chain saw bar. I immediately stopped advancing and stopped the revving of the throttle. The chain tore through his turnout pants and became caught in the material with the rotation of the chain advancing the saw up his lower leg to his upper leg. I attempted to hold the saw with both hands and pull it away from his leg as well as try to engage the chain brake with my wrist at the same time. A tug of war ensued and eventually I was able to disengage the saw from his turnout pants and engage the chain brake. I immediately checked his leg for any sign of injury. Fortunately no injury was sustained. I asked Captain [name deleted] if he was alright, he stated he was and said, Lets get back to work and cut the ventilation hole. and we did so. After some mop up operations, we dismounted the roof and engaged in a tailboard discussion regarding the incident.
#08-285 Lessons Learned Lessons learned: This accident was preventable. Never advance with a chain saw running with the chain brake disengaged, especially in smoky conditions with a mask on that will limit your field of vision. Always keep a visual awareness of the people that are in your working area. Look out ahead of where you are advancing as well as keeping an eye on the surface you are walking on and the tip of the chain saw. Fortunately, no injury occurred from this incident. The saw could not have come any closer to the captains leg without causing an injury, most likely serious injury.
#08-285 Discussion Questions 1. Is it ever considered appropriate to carry a running chainsaw? 2. When operating a chainsaw, what is the minimum safety equipment required? 3. What do you consider a safe distance to maintain from a firefighter operating a chainsaw? 4. How often do you and your crew train using running chainsaws? 5. In what way does low visibility conditions impact chainsaw operations?