Trees serve both practical and aesthetic functions, and people can become quite attached to them. But work to maintain, trim, and even remove trees should be left to the professionals, who say their profession is often dangerous, but in all ways rewarding.
Joseph Alexopoulos has given many customers quotes for taking down a tree. But he will never forget the day he arrived at a house, saw a rope hanging from the tree the homeowner wanted removed, and asked about it.
"I was told the man they hired before me died trying to fell it," said the president of Tree 413 in Longmeadow, adding that the tragedy is an example of how dangerous the work can be.
Local experts agree it’s critically important to hire professionals with the knowledge, training, proper equipment, and insurance to prevent homeowners from being sued if an accident occurs on their property.
The Tree Care Industry Assoc. says successfully felling a tree requires knowledge of tree physics, biology, dangerous tools, and advanced cutting techniques, and homeowners who attempt their own tree removal may be injured by falling limbs, malfunctioning equipment, or the tree itself.
The work is hazardous by nature, and professionals are completely outfitted in protective gear and trained to climb trees, operate cranes, and use chainsaws, ropes, wood chippers, and stump grinders safely.
Manager Randy Sample of Arbortech Tree Service LLC in Springfield says the company holds weekly meetings led by employees to discuss situations they encounter and the safest way to deal with them.
"Unforeseen scenarios can occur, but we go to great lengths to eliminate the possibility of accidents," he said, adding that employees use a wide range of equipment, adhere to OSHA standards, and are certified annually in electrical hazard and prevention, which ensures they are familiar with equipment utility companies use to provide electricity and the dangers associated with tree care and utility lines.
Tree pruning and felling is a major source of income for most local tree-service companies, but many have branched out, and the scope of their work includes a wide variety of jobs.
Arbortech created a Plant Healthcare Division five years ago to keep trees healthy, because problems almost always begin in the root system.