Sunday, May 20, 2012

Greetings from Prince William Forest Park: Charles Papacostas Week 1

I am very excited to have another summer to spend here, as last year was so much fun.  For my first week at Prince William, I helped Ranger Mike Allen on a continuing project to reduce harzardous fuels in the park.  Mike and I drove out to different sections along Burma Road and spent the days clearing potential fuels lying within 1 chain (66 feet) off the road.  In the event of a fire, if there are few fuels close to the road, this can possibly prevent or slow the fire from spreading.  As always, safety is the central priority when doing anything and it certainly could not be more important when felling and bucking trees. Teamwork is also extremely important in clearing these areas of hazardous fuels, as we both depend on each other to maintain safety.  Mike primarily served as the sawyer, or the cutter, I was the swamper, looking out for any possible dangers that might arise from any angle, and clear sticks and tree limbs that he cut and could become hazards.  One of the most important lessons I took away from this week was the concept of the 360 degree assessment.  In any situation whether in law enforcement, fighting fires, or bucking and felling trees this is essential to do at all times.  Once we set out to clear fuels, I really became aware of the dangers not only in front of us, but mainly from above.  Widowmakers, seemed to be all over and can fall off trees at any given time, and can present a great danger for anyone.  Mike taught me about the different parts of the chain saw and how to properly handle and cut with it, and I got to buck a few dead trees.  I was happy to get that opportunity since I do not have much experience using chain saws.  Over the course of the summer I will continue to help Mike with the hazardous fuel reduction project, and I am greatly looking forward to aiding in this task and the summer ahead at Prince William Forest Park.     


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