Service Example Protects Local Firefighters
When seasonal firefighter Tracy Gingrich worked on a road-clearing project in 2009, little did he know his actions would prevent a fellow firefighter from sustaining serious injury in a chainsaw accident a year later.
Gingrich was sawing trees and clearing brush to improve access and firefighter safety at Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts. Mashpee Fire and Rescue members asked Gingrich about the clothes he wore while using a chainsaw. He explained that the Service requires wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). As a direct result of this conversation, the local department equipped all of their brush trucks with chainsaw chaps.
One firefighter wore the chaps as he felled a tree during a small brushfire in July, 2010. His saw bucked and bounced off him. “Had we not had the interaction with firefighter Gingrich, I am sure that the operator would have been badly injured,” said George Baker, Chief of Mashpee Fire and Rescue.
He added that using chainsaw chaps, specialized equipment, and other techniques learned from the Service is creating a safer operating environment for responders.
Baker also credits the Service for making his fire operations more efficient. His department purchased a brush cutter mounted on a skid steer after seeing how a similar cutter performed for the Service. “In a few hours [we] had a 20-foot vegetation break around the fire,” he said. “In the past this type of line would have taken more than a day to cut and would have required additional crews.”
Deputy Refuge Complex Manager Tom Eagle consults with Mashpee Fire and Rescue Chief George Baker for a road-clearing project. Catherine Hibbard, USFWS
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