Do You Use Chainsaws For Trail Maintenance? Here Is Some Critical Safety Information You Need To Know

In preparation for our June 10, 2020 webinar Vehicle Spark Arresters Past, Present and Future NOHVCC staff had the opportunity to speak with webinar presenter, Chris Real. Chris, with DPS Technical, Inc., brought to our attention a very real safety issue that could impact OHV enthusiasts and managers who may be returning to the field to perform trail maintenance or other trail work. Essentially, as a result of decreased vehicle miles travelled during the shutdowns, there may be more “winter blend” gasoline in circulation, which could create safety concerns related to the operation of small engines including those found in chainsaws during hot Summer months.

Winter blend gasolines react differently than summer blends and when used in chainsaws in hot weather vapor lock or “geysering” may be more likely than normal. This means everyone operating a chainsaw this summer needs to take extra precautions to prevent injuries.

Chris provided NOHVCC with some specific information:

“Geysering” describes the rapid, high-energy, expulsion of fuel. It occurs when fuel in a closed (non-vented) system becomes superheated (heated above the boiling point) and pressurized. Under these conditions, removing a fuel cap from a partially filled container (fuel tank) can result in rapid depressurization and accidental release of liquid and vapor.

Occasionally the fuel will “boil over” the filler cap area and a spill will occur. Under some conditions the fuel can discharge in a spray. Geysering can also occur when opening fuel containers (for example, fuel cans, bottles, etc.) and when removing fuel caps from tanks of small gasoline-powered engines (for example, chainsaws and leaf blowers). Rapid release of vapors and liquid fuel – also an additional concern when filling a hot automobile as an increase of vapors may be present.

Chris also sent along highly informative resources addressing this issue:

Printed Resource:

https://www.nwcg.gov/committee/6mfs/avoiding-fuel-geysering

Chris also provided a link to a 2016 WFSTAR: Fireline Fuel Safety

Video PSA:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8g2iCnGAYk&feature=emb_rel_pause (pay particular attention to the fuel spray in the video. No one wants a face full of gasoline. Or to be potentially ignited.)

If you plan to perform trail work (or use a chainsaw or other tools with small engines) please be careful. OHV safety is important even when you aren’t “in the seat.”

More information about Chris:

Chris Real is a long-standing member of the specialty vehicle and technical community. As a forty-five-year vehicle development specialist. He is recognized for vehicle testing and development programs, ranging from new vehicle certification level testing and is a regulatory agency expert resource.

Professionally he participates in the technical community with standards and methodology development for testing vehicles and components and interfaces with numerous industry associations, state agencies and governmental and regulatory agencies.

His firm DPS Technical, Inc., consults and provides environmental protection services, education and recognized specific training for international activities, law enforcement agencies and event sanctioning bodies.

Pertaining to Off Highway vehicles, his firm tests hundreds of vehicles each year and is one of the development specialists that evaluates conceptual products and introduces the technology for regulatory inspections. With Spark Arresters, DPS Technical performs education, field inspection and technical development activities.

Personally, Chris is a comm

itted motorsports participant and has participated as a rider, racing team manager, team owner and an enthusiast.

Motorized recreation is his favorite activity and he operates Side-by-Sides, race cars, Motocross, Endurocross and Dual-Sport motorcycles, and participates in vintage trials and Adventure riding.