Tool for the Job: Pulaski Firefighting Axe

Combining an axe head with a grub hoe, the Pulaski ax is a tool well suited for firefighting as well as general maintenance around the farm. Although single-purpose tools may be more efficient, the utility of a Pulaski when walking a fence line or in the bed of a pickup can’t be undersold. A Pulaski is equally at home digging out a stump, felling a small tree or trenching drainage from a puddle.Screenshot 2016-01-17 17.43.08Ed Pulaski saved 40 members of his 45-man Forest Service crew in the 1910 Great Idaho Fire. As it became clear that his team would not be able to effectively fight the fire, thoughts turned to survival and Pulaski remembered a mine shaft he’d discovered in his prospecting days. He ordered the men into the shaft just as the fire burning outside sucked the oxygen out of the mine to fuel the flames. The crew began to panic due to the fear of suffocation but Pulaski drew his .44 pistol, stating “The next man who tries to leave the tunnel, I will shoot!” Nearly the entire crew survived.Screenshot 2016-01-17 18.18.30Although evidence exists that Ed Pulaski didn’t invent the tool that bears his name, it’s undisputed that he was instrumental in refining, improving and popularizing the Pulaski in those days before the internet. It’s standard issue to most wilderness firefighting teams, and its versatility extends to use around the homestead – particularly for clearing small stumps.IMG_2152To tackle a stump or root on a building site or trail, use the corner of the hoe to clear chip and clear the soil from around the roots. Then sever the roots with the axe. Since the head of a Pulaski is quite a bit heavier than a standard axe, don’t swing it over your head. Take shorter swings from the waist. Sharpen the axe side of your Pulaski like any axe, but only the “inside” bevel of the hoe – a steeper angle will let the edge better weather striking stones.

Comments are closed.