Ventilation is an important component of conducting safe and effective fire fighting in structures. Coordinating ventilation and fire attack streams can result in less danger to firefighters and occupants, and provide quicker fire control.


Fire departments use various types of power saws to open structures for ventilation. The safe use of these saws requires knowledge and training on the operation of this equipment.

Actions for employers

Employers must:

  • train firefighters on the safe operation of saws
  • maintain saws in good condition

Employers should:

  • develop procedures on ventilation saws

Types of ventilation saws

There are 2 types of ventilation saws:

  • rotary or circular saws which use a variety of circular blades to cut wood, steel and concrete
  • chainsaws which use different chains, blades and special attachments designed specifically for fire ventilation work

When buying new saws, consider models with improved safety and operating features.

Safety considerations

Consider including the following in procedures on ventilation saws:

  • maintenance and servicing as per the manufacturer’s operating manual, including fuelling, oil mixes, starting, stopping, checking chain brake, chain adjustment and cleaning
  • requiring firefighters to start and run the saw briefly on the ground and then shut it off before it is sent to be used
  • use of an adjustable depth gauge to minimize cutting of rafters
  • follow safety procedures for working on roofs, as discussed in Firefighters guidance note #6-14: Safe roof operations
  • requiring firefighters to wear full protective equipment including eye protection
  • have a guide to watch where the operator is going and clear the path of obstructions
  • keep all firefighters except for the operator and guide clear of the cutting operation

Applicable regulations and acts


  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
    • clause 25(1)(b) for maintaining equipment in good condition
    • clause 25(2)(a) for providing information and instruction to a worker
    • clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers
  • Regulation 851 - Industrial Establishments
    • section 79 for training on the care and use of protective clothing, equipment and devices
    • section 81 for eye protection
    • section 83 for preventing entanglement


Read the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) Manuals for information on:

  • fire service ventilation
  • forcible entry
  • essentials of fire fighting

Read firefighter guidance note 6-14 Safe roof operations.