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Forestry Crew

The forestry crew is a 5 to 20-person team that performs a variety of assignments that maintain and protect healthy young forests as they grow, including: tree planting, firefighting, slash piling, prescribed burning, pre-commercial thinning, seedling care, cone collection, tree release, vegetation control, and stream or habitat enhancement. Crews may also provide disaster response and relief services for incidents, such as wildfires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or search & recovery.
 
Crews are assembled and trained to accomplish particular assignments, which change throughout the year. Typically those assignments are short-term or seasonal—therefore a forestry crew may work on many different jobs and types of assignments that change during a single year. This means that within several months, a crewmember for a few days or weeks could work as a tree planter, firefighter, fuels & erosion helper, and a plantation worker. All crewmembers receive ample job-tailored safety and task training, due to the many hazards from work in rough terrain, ever-changing outdoor jobsites, specific tasks, tools/power equipment, natural risks, and mountain driving.
 
FIREFIGHTER
The forest or wildland Firefighter performs a variety of hand-work assignments, for the purpose of controlling and suppressing unwanted forest fires. Firefighter walks on forest slopes, and works on a 10 to 20-person crew that safely performs important fire-stopping tactics that stop the fire’s spread, snuff the flames, and extinguish the heat. This includes assignments such as: hand-construction of a dirt fireline, cutting and removing trees and woody debris to create firebreaks, laying and plumbing fire hose, installing & pumping water, spraying water to cool fuels, igniting backfires to burn-out unwanted fuels, patrolling for spot fires, churning the ashes to eliminate embers (“mop-up”), and removing fire equipment & hose upon completion. This seasonal work occurs in the dry summer & fall months, and may be on-call basis. Firefighter involves manual-labor in hot smoky conditions, walking in steep terrain while carrying materials, and use of tools. Sometimes a chainsaw is used. Communicates with other crew members about work progress and safety. Requires special safety clothing, physical-fitness, endurance, and hiking the often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed brush while carrying a tool.
 
Prior Experience: None required; employer-provided fire training; written firefighting guidelines; on-the-job-training.
 
FIRE PUMP / ENGINE TENDER
A forestry crew job that works as a firefighter, with a specific responsibility to safely operate mechanical water pumps—or pumping equipment on a fire engine—as an assistant to a crew Boss or Engine Boss. Tender works on a 5 to 20-person crew—or a 2-person fire engine crew—assisting with the operation of all water pumping, fire hose-lays, water supply & drafting, fitting & plumbing of fire hoses, and fire engine operation (if engine crew). Tender is a skilled member of a crew that performs assignments that require water delivery, including forest firefighting and prescribed burning. Works on mountain roads and forested slopes, and helps supervisor determine safe water delivery practices. Refer to ‘Firefighter.’
 
Prior Experience: Work as firefighter; employer-provided fire pumping & hose plumb training; small motor/chainsaw use & service; written fire & water supply guidelines; on-the-job-training.
 
FLAGGER
The flagger works to direct public and commercial vehicle traffic on public roads and highways. Flagger assists a logging, forestry or road crew, or heavy equipment operation on a road project. Flagger is responsible to assure that vehicles can safely pass a logging or construction jobsite, where forest workers and their machinery are actively employed near or on public roads. The flagger must stand for long periods of time, walks on forest roads, and can perform a variety of traffic control assignments—such as stopping, directing and allowing vehicles to proceed, as determined to be safe. Job is usually project-based, and may be seasonal. Flagger’s job may involve walking on rough surfaces, holding signs, and frequent radio communication. May work on an hourly-basis. Communicates continuously with other crew members about work progress and safety. Requires all-weather clothing, and walking all-day on forest roads while carrying a sign.
 
Prior Experience: None required; on-the-job-training.
 
FORESTRY / GENERAL LABORER
The forestry laborer is employed to assist other forest workers in safely accomplishing specific forest management tasks. The laborer walks on forest slopes and forest roads, and can perform a variety of assignments—such as working on a 5 to 20-person crew engaged in forestry, logging, or roading; or working with a forestry technician; or assisting a heavy equipment operator; or helping a forest professional do their work. May work on a crew to provide disaster response and relief services for incidents, such as wildfires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or search & recovery. Job is usually project-based, and may be seasonal. Laborer’s job may involve walking in forested terrain, lifting & carrying materials, measuring & recording data, and use of tools. May work on a production-basis, measured by acres, volume or length. Communicates with other crew members about work progress and safety. Requires all-weather clothing, physical-fitness, and hiking the often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed brush while carrying a tool.
 
Prior Experience: None required; on-the-job-training.
 
FORESTRY LABORER
The forestry laborer is employed to assist other forest workers in safely accomplishing specific forest management tasks. The laborer walks on forest slopes and forest roads, and can perform a variety of assignments—such as working on a 5 to 20-person crew engaged in forestry, logging, or roading; or working with a forestry technician; or assisting a heavy equipment operator; or helping a forest professional do their work. May work on a crew to provide disaster response and relief services for incidents, such as wildfires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or search & recovery. Job is usually project-based, and may be seasonal. Laborer’s job may involve walking in forested terrain, lifting & carrying materials, measuring & recording data, and use of tools. May work on a production-basis, measured by acres, volume or length. Communicates with other crew members about work progress and safety. Requires all-weather clothing, physical-fitness, and hiking the often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed brush while carrying a tool.
 
Prior Experience: None required; on-the-job-training.
 
FULELS AND EROSION HELPER
This forestry helper can perform a variety of manual-labor assignments, which accomplish one or more different tasks, such as: forest erosion control, site clean-up, clearing to plant, fuel reduction, or piling logging debris (called “slash:” cut tree limbs, tops, chunks, shrubs, saplings). Helper walks on forest slopes, and works on a 5 to 20-person crew that safely performs important post-harvest improvements that keep the forest green, clean and sustainable. This includes assignments such as: hand-piling of slash, stream cleanout of slash, clearing spots for tree-planting, slash relocation or chipping, grass-seeding & mulching to reduce erosion, culvert/ditch cleanout of debris, digging waterbars (trenches), habitat enhancement, and stream improvement. This work usually occurs in summer & fall months, but can happen in any season. Helper employs lifting and tossing woody debris, walking in a harvested forest, carrying materials, and use of tools. Sometimes a chainsaw is used. May work on a production-basis, measured by acres, volume or length. Communicates with other crew members about work progress and safety. Requires all-weather clothing, physical-fitness, endurance, and hiking the often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed brush while carrying a tool.
 
Prior Experience: None required; on-the-job-training.
 
PLANTATION WORKER
A forestry tree worker performs a variety of labor-intensive assignments, which help assure successful establishment of young trees, after tree planting of newly-harvested forests (called “plantations”). This Worker accomplishes important reforestation tasks that help newly-planted tree seedlings (and young trees under 8 feet tall) to survive, become established, and thrive to grow into mature trees. State forestry laws require harvested forests to be successfully planted, and also “free-to-grow” (fully-occupied by healthy young trees by 6-years after logging). Worker walks on forested slopes, and employed on a 3 to 20-person crew that safely performs important post-harvest small tree care that keeps the forest growing and sustainable. This includes various assignments, such as: tree seedling stocking-survival surveys, seedling tubing & shade blocking, seedling top protection, fertilizing, hand spraying, sapling release from vegetation, rodent baiting, cone/seed collection, and pest & invasive plant/brush control. This seasonal work is typically timed in the month to best achieve desired results. Worker walks in a harvested forest; carries and applies materials to tree seedlings; uses tools; or may take measurements & record data. May work on a production-basis, measured by acres, volume or number. Communicates with other crew members about work progress and safety. Requires all-weather clothing, physical-fitness, endurance, and hiking the often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed brush while carrying a tool.
 
Prior Experience: None required; on-the-job-training.
 
PRE-COMMERCIAL THINNER
Works on slopes of overcrowded young forest trees, using a chainsaw or other tools to safely hand-fall some of the small trees. Thinner works on a 5 to 20-person crew that performs important tree “thinning” to reduce the number of standing young trees. Applies a thinning plan, or spacing guide, to select which trees to safely cut and leave. Thinner may also delimb (lop) the fallen trees and redistribute the cut limbs (slash). This seasonal work usually occurs in winter, spring or fall months. Young trees are from 8-30 feet tall, under 5” diameter. Thins on a production-basis, commonly thinning 2-4 acres per day. Communicates with other crew members about work progress and safety. Requires special safety clothing, physical-fitness, endurance, and hiking the often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed small trees while carrying a chainsaw and gas/oil.
 
Prior Experience: None required; chainsaw use preferred; on-the-job-training.
 
PRESCRIBED BURNER
This forestry crew job involves work by an experienced forest Firefighter, who performs a variety of hand-work assignments, necessary during the planned ignition and control of a managed-fire in the forest—called a “prescribed burn.” Such prescribe burns are an important forest management method applied to both enhance tree reforestation, and to reduce unwanted/excessive brush and small woody forest fuels that pose hazardous threat of unwanted future wildfire. Also called “slash burns,” which reduce the post-harvest logging debris—cut tree limbs, tops, and chunks, called “slash.” Prescribed “back-burns” may also be used during firefighting, as a wildfire suppression tactic. Burner walks on forest slopes, and works on a 10 to 20-person crew that safely performs both fire-lighting and -stopping tactics, to first ignite and then snuff the flames. This includes assignments such as: hand-construction of a dirt fireline, cutting and removing trees and woody debris to create firebreaks, laying and plumbing fire hose, installing & pumping water, spraying water to cool fuels, igniting backfires to burn-out unwanted fuels, patrolling for spot fires, churning the ashes to eliminate embers (“mop-up”), and removing fire equipment & hose upon completion. This seasonal work is typically timed in the spring or winter month to best achieve desired results. Burner involves manual-labor in hot smoky conditions, walking in steep terrain while carrying materials, and use of tools or ignition devices/torches. Sometimes a chainsaw is used. Communicates with other crew members about work progress and safety. Requires special safety clothing, physical-fitness, endurance, and hiking the often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed brush while carrying tools.
 
Prior Experience: Work as firefighter; employer-provided prescribed fire training; written burn/fire guidelines; on-the-job-training.
 
SAWYER
Works on a 5 to 20-person crew, using a chainsaw to safely cut (“buck”) downed trees into smaller lengths that can be then handled by other workers; Sawyer’s job may involve incidental falling of trees with chainsaw. Sawyer accomplishes the tree bucking, delimbing and infrequent tree falling, for crews that are performing other labor-intensive assignments, such as: firefighting, prescribed burning, road maintenance & building, hand-piling of slash, stream cleanout of slash, or slash relocation. Works on forested slopes, and determines safe cutting practices—during chainsaw operation. Sawyer may also delimb (lop) fallen trees and redistribute the cut limbs (slash). Communicates with other crew members about work progress and safety. Requires special safety clothing, physical-fitness, endurance, and hiking the often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed small trees while carrying a chainsaw, gas/oil and other tools.
 
Prior Experience: None required; chainsaw use & service preferred; written timber falling handbooks and training guides; training associated with crew’s current job; on-the-job-training.
 
SWAMPER
A forestry crew job that works as an assistant to a chainsaw-using Sawyer. Swamper works on a 5 to 20-person crew, safely-alongside to help a Sawyer. The Swamper assists the Sawyer by pulling limbs and wood debris away from the immediate work area—which allows safer cutting and chainsaw operation. Swamper is a skilled member of a crew that performs other labor-intensive assignments, such as: firefighting, prescribed burning, road maintenance & building, hand-piling of slash, stream cleanout of slash, or slash relocation. Works on forested slopes, and helps Sawyer determine safe cutting practices—during chainsaw operation. Refer to ‘Sawyer .’
 
Prior Experience: None required; on-the-job-training.
 
TREE PLANTER
Walks on forest slopes, planting tree seedlings and clearing planting spots for small trees. Planter works on a 5 to 20-person crew that performs important reforestation of recently-harvested forestlands. State forestry laws require harvested forests to be fully-reforested within 6-years after logging. This seasonal work usually occurs in winter or spring months. Planter walks in a harvested forest; carries a bag of tree seedlings on the waist; and uses a special shovel-like tool to dig & cover a hole into which each seedling’s roots are buried. Sometimes a chainsaw-powered auger tool is carried to dig planting holes. Tree seedlings are 6” to 30” tall. Plants on a production-basis, typically planting 500-1,000 seedlings per day. Communicates with other crew members about work progress and safety. Requires all-weather clothing, physical-fitness, endurance, and hiking the often steep forest terrain, climbing over downed brush, while carrying a tree bag and tool.
 
Prior Experience: None required; on-the-job-training.