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How manny tools and what kind?


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I already have a good idea of the hand tools (mechanics) I would like to have in the rig at any given time.

My question is in regard to Volunteering in state or federal parks or WLP .

 

Do you carry such things as skill saws, chop saws, nail bags, sawsall. or does the place you are working/volunteering have these tools for your use?

Not that I will be fulltime anytime soon but do think we will be able to volunteer from time to time and don't want to haul extra weight unless I will have a need of it .

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There are RV volunteer service organizations such as SOWERS or Campers on Mission who provide their own tools but in the more than 30 locations where I have volunteered for state and federal agencies, only one time was I involved in a project where I did not have all of the needed tools provided. Even that one case there were all vital tools but for labor saving I did use a few of my own. I do carry, and have used a tool belt and nail apron of my own fairly often and since I have a favorite hammer, I have used that as well. I have always carried my own circular saw, saber saw, drill, and things of that nature that I may use on my RV, but I don't recall ever using them on a job.

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When I worked for the land management agencies, we provided volunteers with the tools to complete the job. However, there were a few specific tools like chainsaws that the Department of Interior required a training course by an agency certified instructor before either an employee or volunteer could use them. Use of heavy equipment like tractors and graders and the operation of a power boat also required completion of specific training. Because every field station did not have certified instructors on staff, this occasionally resulted in frustration of volunteers who had a lot of experience in their prior careers.

 

We volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and I have never had to supply my own tools. I did however, recently receive a newsletter that discussed recent OSHA inspections that identified work place safety concerns and the need for improved training and procedures so I am expecting that they may start to limit access to some of the more dangerous power tools like those that shoot fasters into concrete with 6mm blanks.

 

My point is that an agency may have a reason for not providing a specific power tool.

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Thank you both I was just curious. I may never work a day as a volunteer but it is something I have thought a lot about . Plus I do enjoy that type of work so long as not having to make my living at it.

 

Another thought say I was doing work in my campsite lets say building some signs to be placed later and used my own tools but had not completed a safety course on the use of a skill saw. How is that type of thing thought of....... No I would most likely not do it but my mind works a little different sometimes.

 

Working for a city sometimes you have to do some creative thinking in order to get the job done and stay within the rules.

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...Another thought say I was doing work in my campsite lets say building some signs to be placed later and used my own tools but had not completed a safety course on the use of a skill saw. How is that type of thing thought of....... No I would most likely not do it but my mind works a little different sometimes...

That hypothetical is a tough one to me. With the agencies I worked for, volunteers were covered by workman's compensation for medical expenses related to any injuries incurred in the performance of their official duties. If the hours spent making the signs were being counted towards the required hours for the provided RV site, there might be a problem if agency policies were not followed and an injury occurred. But, I have no idea whether the Department of Labor would refuse to pay the medical bills. I had lots of volunteers from the local community that donated items like signs, bat houses, and bird nest boxes that they built at home on their own time. I would view items made on your own time at your site in a manner similar to those, but that is just my view and I have been retired for 10 years.

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Thank you both I was just curious. I may never work a day as a volunteer but it is something I have thought a lot about . Plus I do enjoy that type of work so long as not having to make my living at it.

We tend to prefer volunteer positions where we do more unconventional tasks. Pam once spent most of her time driving a 4WD truck around a large national wildlife refuge recording GPS locations of locations where utilities & pipelines cross the property. We were both involved in banding operations for birds a few times, we have lead many nature walks and done visitor tours, and a lot of other unusual things for our working hours. I have done a lot of tractor operations, we both have done mowing, we counted baby alligators, and in one case I helped in raising some of them. Pam has helped in the office several times and we have both worked in visitor centers and gift shops(she is much better with the cash register) and collected entry fees. Yes, we have built things as well but that has probably been no more than 1/3 of our locations and less than half of our hours in most locations. The very unique & interesting things that we have done is a major part of the reason that we continue to love the RV volunteer lifestyle.

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Our experience with both the USFWS at National Wildlife Refuges and at US Forest Service has been that using any of your own equipment is discouraged. They cannot replace it if damaged and if it is a power tool you will not be covered under workman's comp if injured. As previously stated some equipments requires treating and certification. Even certified fire crew must have 2 people when using a dhasin saw out on trails etc. It is SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY.

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We are members of Campers On Mission and carry all the tools necessary to build a complete building (church, fellowship hall or other building) except for a table saw. I usually build the kitchen cabinets also, so I have those tools also. Most volunteers do not carry this many tools.

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Sorry , this is a little off subject but If you are active in church you might check to see if there is an affiliated mission or volunteer organization. Your own tools would probably be handy on various projects. As to how much to carry, I'd take anything you're comfortable with using as long as you don't take up too much of your basement storage. I doubt that a few hundred pounds of tools would make much difference in fuel economy and you never know just what might come in handy.

Russ

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Our experience with both the USFWS at National Wildlife Refuges and at US Forest Service has been that using any of your own equipment is discouraged. They cannot replace it if damaged and if it is a power tool you will not be covered under workman's comp if injured. As previously stated some equipments requires treating and certification. Even certified fire crew must have 2 people when using a dhasin saw out on trails etc. It is SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY.

 

As a volunteer you are considered a employee for the purposes of workman's comp and other similar issues. So take all the required certification and training that the agency offers you. It has been almost eight years since I retired but I was talking to a current employee and they said the REQUIRED basic certification and training for volunteers is up to one week!! Some of the seasonal fire positions now require two weeks of annual refresher training.

 

IF you want to use your own tools. You can sign up under a "rental" agreement with the agency. There does not need to be money exchange. It just means that you will be using your own tools as a volunteer (government employee) and if something happens to your tools while on "government" work you can get them repaired or replaced.

 

When I first started work with the agency I took my personal camera to take pictures on a Forest Service "business" trip. The point of the trip was to prepare for writing the management plan and the pictures were to illustrate the plan. Well, it rained for the entire week backpacking around and my expensive 35mm camera, became a a paperweight. It ended up being a "donation' since it was not under a rental agreement. I should have borrowed a "Forest Service" camera for the trip.

 

Ask questions. As somebody once told me.....you can do anything in government. It just might take you quite a bit of time to find the regulation or law that allows you to do it!!! Nowadays, there is more and more focus not on the right thing, but the legal thing.

 

Currently, on fire assignments I have the resource order specify a camera, laptop, tablet, phone, and personal vehicle for use on the fire. That way, I have enough equipment to do my job and some assurance that I will not be out of pocket for some very expensive "tools".

 

Make it easier for the supervisor that sponsors your volunteer assignment. Play by the rules.

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rules.

I have not volunteered with the US Forest Service, but have never run into any of the "rules" that are being bandied about in this thread. On the rare occasions that I did use a tool that belonged to me, not one time was I asked about doing so or required to sign anything. At one wildlife refuge I was asked to make some recognition plaques and since they didn't have a router, I used my own and the manager actually watched me doing so on one of them.

 

The only place that we ran into major rules on tool use was in CA at a county park and at one of the COE locations we have been to. Most of our experiences have been with the USFWS where we have used extensive tools and it has never come up. If they have that many rules, I don't think I'll consider any maintenance type position with the Forest Service. With the COE it seems to depend upon what district you are volunteering in.

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I get the feeling Vlad is knowledgeable about those rules and I have no doubt they are in place. What usually happens is a lot of the folks, employees and volunteers alike don't know them or ignore them. If so it is at their own risk. That is not annecdotal in "my" experience with volunteering with the Forest Service. The folks there that are involved in the fire shop usually are more knowledgeable about the rules for good reason.

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This has been a fairly quick down and dirty so to speak education . I thought the city had a lot of rules I guess the higher up the food chain the more rules .

 

By the way my intention was and still is not to circumvent the rules just to have an idea of how many and what type I would need to operate under if and when volunteering .

 

Thank you all

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...By the way my intention was and still is not to circumvent the rules just to have an idea of how many and what type I would need to operate under if and when volunteering ...

Every federal facility I worked at had someone designated as the Safety Officer. If you do ever decide to volunteer and ever have a question about power tool use, special training requirements, required safety equipment or safety procedures; find out who that individual is and ask them. If they don't know the answer it is their job to find out for you.

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Every federal facility I worked at had someone designated as the Safety Officer.

Interesting! While that does seem easy to believe, in all of our volunteer work the only place that I recall having heard of any employee responsible for safety issues was at a county park in CA. We have been volunteers in three national parks and the only one where I remember much about the subject was in Everglades where it was a brief part of seasonal ranger training. We did have a "hold harmless" agreement and most everywhere we volunteered, perhaps all places(memory isn't totally reliable). We have also had safety manuals to read and sometimes safety videos as well but only once or twice has there been much about tool safety. I did go through a day long safety training/certification with the USFWS to operate a farm tractor and later for heavy tractors. At Imperial NWR they brought in an instructor to train and certify several of us on the backhoe.

 

I suspect that you are right about the safety position, but don't think that it is as well propagated to volunteers as perhaps it should be.

By the way my intention was and still is not to circumvent the rules just to have an idea of how many and what type I would need to operate under if and when volunteering .

I really don't think that you need to be concerned about the issue as most places you may go have used volunteers for some period and have their manuals and training pretty standardized. You are ahead of me as I really never gave the issue much thought until this tread came up. One thing that I did notice is that the attitude toward volunteers and use of tools, and many other safety & security issues will vary widely from one agency to another. In the county park in CA they had me do two hours of training in order to be allowed to use a weed eater and the ranger told me the required training for a chain saw was a full week, yet we collected entry fees as volunteers and didn't even have individual cash drawers or accountability. At a Kansas state park I used a chain saw after simply saying that "yes" I had used one before and knew how to use the safety equipment. At Imperial NWR we were required to have safety shoes to work in the shop and they paid for me to get a pair of boots with them.

 

The only place that I remember not being covered by workman's comp or similar insurance while on the job was a county park in WA where we had to sign a statement that we understood this and were emphatically told not to use any power equipment or harsh chemicals at all.

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...Interesting! While that does seem easy to believe, in all of our volunteer work the only place that I recall having heard of any employee responsible for safety issues was at a county park in CA... I suspect that you are right about the safety position...

Safety Officer requirement: "All of our duty stations must have a CDSO either on site or at another site to advise and assist Project Leaders/Supervisors/Facility Managers (called “Project Leaders” throughout this chapter) to achieve the Project Leader’s responsibility to implement the station’s safety and occupational health program."

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Per my experience at one place, I was there several summers and early on if they had a safety officer you couldn't tell. Up the line there is supposed to be a safety officer at the supervisors office. Well, one year when I got back they had just had a visit from the new safety officer from the supervisors office. She had literally cut the electrical cords off some equipment so it could not be used until it was properly repaired or replaced. She made her point and folks at the district got more interested in safety. Trail crews. certain volunteers, and maint. people on some projects have a short "Tailgate" briefing going over the project, safety reminders and the JHA sheet. JHA is -Job Hazard Analysis. It is all kind of like an aircraft preflight checklist. I know I want one of those on the next plane I fly on.

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