Early last spring, before I joined Lewis Tree Service, I had a close call that I believe carries some valuable lessons for our team. The private company that I was working for had a contract to remove several hundred dead ash trees from a local park. I put a notch in a 12-inch DBH, 50–60 ft tall dead ash that had just enough lean to it that I was confident it would go where I wanted it to. I started my back cut, and just as I was expecting the tree to begin to tip over, it barber chaired.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a barber chair is when a tree violently splits vertically and hinges somewhere over your head. This is most often a hazard when you fell trees with pronounced lean in the same direction that gravity is pulling on them. Barber chairs are extremely dangerous for the saw operator because, as the tree hinges upward from your cut, it is over your head and ready to come crashing down at any moment. A clear escape route is your only chance of avoiding the trunk as it comes down – otherwise you are relying on luck to keep you alive. That day I had a few things working against me, and I ended up extremely lucky.
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