Christmas tree fire safety

  • Published
  • By Christopher Hughes
  • Eglin Fire Department
Carefully decorating Christmas trees can help make your holidays safer. The Eglin Fire and Emergency Services Flight along with the National Fire Protection Association offer some facts and tips that will hopefully make Christmas time a safe and happy time for you and your family this year and for years to come. The NFPA offers some facts and figures:
  • U.S. Fire Departments responded to an estimated annual average of 240 home structure fires that began with Christmas trees in 2005-2009.
  • These fires caused an annual average of 13 civilian deaths, 27 civilian fire injuries and $16.7 million in direct property damage.
  • Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they occur, they are likely to be serious. On average, one of every 18 reported fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in death.
  • Five of every six Christmas tree fires occurred in December or January. 42 percent of home structure fires occurred on the twelve days from Dec. 23 - Jan. 3.
  • A heat source too close to the Christmas tree starts one of every five of these fires.
  • 13 percent of those home Christmas tree fires involved decorative lights.
  • Candles started 11 percent of home Christmas tree structure fires.
  • 39 percent of home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room or den.
  • 18 percent of home Christmas tree structure fires were intentionally set.
Here are some do's and don'ts for Christmas trees and decorations in the workplace:
  • Natural cut Christmas trees are not allowed in doors at any facility, with the following exception: trees located in areas protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system.
  • Artificial Christmas trees shall be labeled or otherwise identified or certified by the manufacturer as being "flame retardant" or "flame resistant."
  • No Christmas trees or decorations shall be allowed to obstruct corridors, exit ways or other means of egress.
  • Only listed electrical lights and wiring for the appropriate application shall be used on Christmas trees and similar decorations.
  • Electrical lights are prohibited on metal artificial trees. Natural cut Christmas trees shall not be located near heating events or other fixed portable heating devices that could cause the tree to dry out prematurely or to be ignited.
  • In occupancies where natural trees are permitted, the bottom end of the trunk shall be cut off at an angle at least one to two inches above the end to help the tree absorb water. The tree shall be placed in a suitable stand with adequate water. The water level shall be checked and maintained on a daily basis.
  • Christmas trees shall be fresh with no signs of dying. Trees found to be dry are highly flammable and are to be removed from the facility.
  • Inside lighted displays and tree lights must be turned off when building is unoccupied.

Please take the time to ensure your home is fire safe during Christmas time and remember to dial 9-1-1 in case of emergency. The Eglin Fire and Emergency Flight wishes all Team Eglin family members and friends a merry and fire safe Christmas and a Happy New Year!