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"LIFE CHANGING" CHAINSAW TRAINING: REFLECTIONS BY ADRIAN  BROOKS

Chainsaw training is one of those that is very much needed, and always seems to remain on the ‘to do’ list. Well thankfully for me, the life changing opportunity arose to undertake proper accredited chainsaw and felling training, kindly organised through the MLWW programme.

The training kicked off on Monday morning (9 January 2017) at the tranquil Young Wood site operated by the Neroche Woodlanders, in the AONB Blackdown Hills near Taunton. The instructor, Lee Kimber, had thoughtfully got the fire going in the roundhouse as the three apprehensive students (Jim and Craig from the Bristol Woodbank and myself) arrived.

What became apparent from the very first session on the course is that any job I had tackled in the past was way outside my capability.

The training kicked off on Monday morning (9 January) at the tranquil Young Wood site operated by the Neroche Woodlanders. The instructor, Lee Kimber, had thoughtfully got the fire going in the roundhouse as the three apprehensive students (Jim and Craig from the Bristol Woodbank and myself) arrived.

What became apparent from the very first session on the course is that any job I had tackled in the past was way outside my capability.

We learned about risk assessment and operator regulations and parts of the chainsaw I never knew existed. We then moved onto practical skills such as how to sharpen a chain and clean /replace a sprocket.

Day 2 commenced with pre-start and operating checks before heading out to learn cross cutting techniques. We understood where the compression and tension was evident in various branch scenarios.

Wednesday began with felling training. Joined by Stuart from Hakeford Woods, Lee talked through the process of selecting the trees to be felled.  He demonstrated a fell before going through with us individually. I must admit my heart was beating as my first Spruce came crashing down right where it was supposed to. Jim, Stuart and Craig’s followed suit, so by lunch we had 4 very happy students.

 

After lunch, Lee mischievously selected trees that he knew would get stuck on other trees and how we reduce the hinge to drop the tree trunk to the floor. At all times, Lee was very clear about the danger zones and what not to do.

On the Thursday, in the rain, we were given our own trees to brash and buttress in preparation for felling and selecting the appropriate felling cut for the size of tree.

On Friday, we met our assessors and proceeded to demonstrate that we were competent chainsaw operators. To our relief, we all passed and are now the very proud owners of City and Guilds NPTC Level 2 awards in Chainsaw Maintenance and Cross-Cutting.

Jim O’Shaughnessy was also extremely satisfied with this training session: “We’re pleased to be proficient and competent in the felling and cross cutting of trees. This training has given us the confidence and skills to maintain our chainsaws and use them safely. We are already looking for larger woodlands which have bigger trees growing. A special thanks to LBS Training who guided us purposely and with some sense of humour.”

Finally, I would like to add a special thanks to Norman Dandy at the MLWW HQ in making this all possible. I know it was very much appreciated by all of us.