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Arborist: Job Description

posted: 01/28/16
Arbor Job Description
Discovery Communications

Arborists have one of the most dangerous jobs out there. Think you could survive the interview? Take a look at the job description below.

COMPANY BIO

Sonoma Marin Aborists (SMA Inc.) is a hazardous tree service and removal company located in Petaluma, California. It's one of the only companies in the entire country equipped to work on Sonoma County's tallest and most dangerous trees, including giant Eucalyptus and Redwoods that are well over 200 feet. These trees have become widow makers, as when a giant tree like this falls, major destruction, injuries, and fatalities are common. And those odds become much worse when you are the guys trying to prevent the catastrophes.

SAMPLE ACTION

Nearly every job at SAM Inc. involves working in trees 200 feet or taller, with employees moving expertly from branch to branch while wielding industrial-size chainsaws. Sparks fly as the trees sway dangerously in the wind. Massive tree branches and sometimes entire trees come crashing down. On the ground below, a system of heavy-duty rope pulleys and crane equipment is used to hoist supplies and workers up into the trees.

JOBS

Hazardous tree removal can include cutting away a large portion of a tree or removing the tree entirely. SMA Inc. is trained to handle just about any kind, including large branch trimming and emergency removals following hurricanes, earthquakes, mudslides and other natural disasters. Past jobs include a number of high-profile Redwood removals, invasive species removals (Eucalyptus trees) and safety removals for the Oakland Zoo. In the timeline we'd be shooting, it is fall in the region, when storms are at their worst. October to December it is the most dangerous season to work but the most important.

STAKES

Hazardous tree removal is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. Injuries and fatalities each year number in the thousands. Not only does SMA Inc. have the responsibility of keeping its workers safe, but it's also responsible for keeping the public safe from trees that are in danger of falling homes or people.

LIFE IN THE WORKPLACE

The owner of SMA Inc. describes his workplace as "fueled by testosterone and adrenaline," a place where guys push each other to overcome their fears and the art of tree removal is passed down from the most experienced guys to the rookies. In their off-time, the workers are like family. They'll get together for beers or visit the owner's ranch out in the country.

ROOKIE CULTURE

Tree work tends to attract a certain kind of rookie -- typically young guys chasing an adrenaline fix. They're addicted to the risk, the money ($50 an hour) and most importantly, SMA Inc's culture of competition. The tree climbing positions at SMA Inc. are the most coveted in the company. Rookies are encouraged to go up against each other during the training.

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