Cutting Down Tall Trees in Small Places: The Art of Tree Removal
Cutting down tall trees in small spaces requires many things. If you have taken the time to study a large tree on your urban or suburban property, then you have no doubt come to the conclusion that it will not be as simple as cutting it and watching it fall. In fact, about 9 out of 10 trees that are removed in Northern Virginia require advanced rigging techniques that only trained professionals should be trusted to employ.
But to take this a step further, sometimes even the more advanced rigging techniques can fall short. For example, a limb that is cut from the tree and lowered using an overhead pulley and a ground-level friction device can sometimes become lodged in the canopy if its fall trajectory is not exactly as predicted at the time of the cut. This is when it becomes important that the crew performing the removal is well-prepared. Because at this point the force on the load must be reconsidered and redirected in order to safely bring it to the ground.
The preparation for this kind of situation is twofold. Firstly, all members of the crew from the climber down to the groundsmen must have a mastery of a variety of mechanical advantage principles and the devices used to achieve the advantage. Without these skills it is likely (and sometimes almost certain) that the wrong force will be applied, and injury and property damage will result. It is not good enough to simply “pull harder” when a situation like this occurs. The load must always be controlled, and this will require a change to the original rigging system. In order to change the rigging system mid-stream, the crew must have advanced knowledge of safety knots, load limits of ropes and devices, and procedures for securing and repositioning loads.
All of this knowledge would be rendered useless if the additional ropes and devices were not available to the crew. The crew that shows up with only one of each rope and device is ill-prepared to deal with this kind of situation. A good tree crew has a rigging box with devices in it that may only be used a few times per year. But the few times that they are used will save lives, save property, save the day!
Watch a good tree crew at work, and you will see this first-hand. As work progresses, the crew chief will call out for devices that were not initially employed. Members of the crew will know exactly what is being ordered and come up with those devices quickly. It is that understanding, together with the support of the company in providing the right equipment that makes for a successful takedown every time.