I remember when I first started doing tree work back in 1988. At that time I worked for our established family firm. It was very rare then to even see another tree surgeon on the road, let alone actually see one climbing a tree. Tree surgeons were few and very far between back then. It was a pleasure to say “Oh look there goes another tree surgeon” and pass by with a friendly toot of the horn and a wave. There was a couple of companies that if we saw working , we would pull over and say hi. Maybe even have our lunch break with them and catch up, as it was rare we would cross each others paths. This list would include People like Bruce Wells from BC Site Services of Stretton doing trees 45 yrs+, Henry Gould 60 yrs+and his sons 35yrs+ from H&G Gould Fazeley Tamworth, Richard 50yrs+/ David Barr 40yrs+ from Venture One Four Oaks, Dunfords 45yrs+ from Hednesford, Midlands Tree Surgeons 45yrs+ and Ian Morgan from Town and Country Tree Services 45yrs+(Which later became BroadLeaf owned by Bob Nichol 40yrs+). All those tree surgery companies have been around a very log time and all have very very good reputations.
Im talking about the days before chippers were popular and we burnt up all the rubbish on site. We used Stihl 020’s. 044’s with a fully adjustable carb, for big stuff 080’s, 088’s and 090’s (I still have an 090 with no brake in the workshop). Later we also used Husqvarna 254’s, 288’s and the old 3120 which was nice to drop start when logging down a big trunk, I can tell you. Oh and the spikes at the start of the bar for gripping the tree with were called dogs. Chainsaw trousers wernt even invented then.
For climbing we had the main climbing rope,a small rope loop, a harness, 2 belts, helmet and tree irons(spikes). There were no ascenders or decenders or pretzl’s or pulleys. We had ropes, knots, carabiners and good old strength.
For lowering there were no pulleys(which can attach to any vertical branch), we had to find a fork in the tree(hopeing there was no shed under it) and throw a rope over that to lower branches. Pulling ropes were always used too.
For stump removal there was no stump grinders. We had old diggers if you were lucky and could get one in, a shovel, axe and a turfer winch (again if you were lucky enough to have a anchor point). If that didnt work we used to blow them out with a root bomb. It got them out but made quite a mess 😉
Any machinery repairs would be done by Bernard Buxton on the a34 near Cannock. When we used to go to see Bernard, it was a little shed, not like it is now. Other places we used was Redbrook Sheds, at the Levels industrial estate Rugeley and Burgess in Lichfield.
We had no power barrows, tracked wood chippers, spider platforms, long reach hedge trimmers, fancy climbing gear, stump grinders or tripod ladders and we still got the job done
These days the phrase (Oh look there goes another tree surgeon) is said in another context…….!!!
There are now more tree surgeons in the yellow pages than plumbers…Fact!!
If I pulled in to say hi ide never get anything done and quite often i see them hanging around in trees ready to drop a top throgh someones shed or green house. They seem to get qualified and think they can do any job…. Well ill tell you one thing ive learnt over the years and that is EVERY TREE IS DIFFERENT. Experience is a must.. COMPETENCE is a big word in tree work. I would say you should work as a groundsman / woman for 2-4 years before becoming a climber. Only then can you have seen enough different situations and learnt enough about the methods, equipment, machinery and safety aspects used to dismantle a tree. Climbing a tree is one thing. But useing a chainsaw up a tree is another, especially when there are obstacles beneath.
Theres a big difference between knowing the path and walking the path…or should I say climbing the path.!!!
Anyone can now go and do a weeks course and become a qualified tree surgeon. They can then go and buy some flashy climbing tackle, a chipper, a truck covered in pictures which isnt really them and then advertise and compete with the good old experienced tree surgeons.
It should be made a crime. They are a danger to the public and to them selves. Also they give reputable tree surgeons a bad name.
For a start off different trees basically have different strengths. Some are alot more brittle than others. Some trees you can anchor on to a 2 inch piece where others would snap. Some trees are hollow and may need a winch. Different fungus can make trees unsafe. Some trees are massive and there alot of weight to contend with. You must learn to allow for the slack in the lowering ropes and the swing effect. Also simple things like keeping the work area clean so falling logs dont bounce and the climbing line is always free of debris. If people dont have the proper skill set, how can they even access the job, identify any risks and expain properly the method of how they are goin to do the job…. All trees are different.
A few weeks ago I was in my local tree equipment shop looking to buy a pair of new chainsaw boots as my Jollys had seen better days. When a chap came upto me with a small rope loop and said very politely. ” Well hello there my friend, would ya be able to tell me if this is the right thing for a climbing knot”. I told him it was for a Prusik knot, to slide down your climbing line. I could tell he never had a clue. He then asked me if I was a climber. I told him I do a bit now and then. Then he asked me what people usually do when they havent got the faintest about tree work, how high would i go up.I repied the usual, which is how ever high i have to mate. We said our good byes and we left. Outside he had a brand new tipper truck all painted up with photos of a climber on it, sign written real nice, towing a timber wolf chipper with ladders on too……Whats that all about..???..!!!
We had a job where there was a Lombardi Poplar tree, which we had previously priced up to remove. Anyway we never heard anything for a while and I thought…..Hmmmm undercut again…A few months passed and we had a phone call. it was Mrs Bradley the lady with the Poplar tree. She was quite upset and cried at a few points. She had got a different tree surgeon to come and remove the tree for a cheaper price. he told her he had 10 years experience. Well she said they turned up with a nice new truck, chipper , chainsaws and a long ladder. She only recalled seeing the one rope. She made them all a nice hot drink and gave them some toast before she popped to the supermarket. She was gone around 50 mins.
As Mrs Bradley walked back home, she started to see the poplar come into view. What she saw was a massive chunk as she described, of the tree gone and a pair of ladders triple extended, with another tied to the end. Sticking up in the air against the tree about 40 feet. high. She couldnt hear any chainsaws going and thought maybe they were having a break. When she got home the truck and chipper were no where to be seen. She went around the back garden and BOOM!!!!!! there it was. They had tried to get the whole one side of the top from a pair of ladders that wouldnt reach. They had tied with small bt rope another ladder to the end, to make it longer. When they cut the limb it came down and took the shed and green house totally out. It also smashed the rear garage window and broke the gutter off, What a mess !!
We went and tidied the mess up, then took down the rest of Mrs Bradleys tree.
Many a time ive pulled into garages or ive been working and ive had people come upto me and ask me can i have your number as i might have some work for you tree climbing. Then I look at the truck and they are advertising them selves as tree surgeons…. Whats that all about ???…!!!
Its because they go and do a 1 week course and think they can do any tree. They think its easy. Then they stand at the bottem of a big one and look up. Without the right experience or tools for the job they get injured, cause an accident or damage something.
I know a climber who set a big piece of a limb upto lower, it hit the customers house wall, cracked the plaster inside and knocked the pictures off. The outside was cracked bottem to top. He should of simply put a strap around the piece that was left and looped it around the lowering rope. There fore taking the swing totally out. Ide say thats lack of experience. He had been doing trees for 5 years when that happened.
I was watching a tree surgeon set up the one day, and I told him he had the tree irons on the wrong feet. He was really offended, but when i got him to google a picture of them. I was right. The horizontal part of the pad should be across your shin not your calf.
I saw another chap put them on with the spikes on the outside of his feet, I couldnt believe it. I was working at Swinnerton then, it was mainly tall pines comming down. Some needed deadwooding, so it was a case of chuck the irons on and up down the trunks carefully. He had told me he was a climber , he could use a saw on the ground half decent but that was all. He had a sign written truck saying tree surgeon.
Then we have the issue of fly tippers trashing the countryside, blocking farmers gateways,blocking roads and giving us honest folk a bad name. We are fully licenced waste carriers. We pay to dispose of all of our waste
People think they can get a truck and a few tools and be a tree surgeon.
Its not like getting a bucket and a sponge and being able to wash cars.
The Job Center encourages people, they say we will give you so much money to start up your own business. What can you do? They ask. That many people are saying tree cutting as they think its easy. But then that puts to many tree surgeons in circulation. More tree surgeons means cheaper prices and less quality work. More accidents and damage. Now days people have 5 quotes not 3 for a job. 1 proper tree surgeon 4 cowboys.
I know as ive corrected so many trees and hedges in the last 30 years…!!
Be Aware ……. Be Very Aware…………They really are comming out the wood work……….!!!!!!