Fire Safety Christmas Trees

State Fire Marshal’s Office urges fire safety for Christmas trees
Videos show hazards posed by the holiday fixture if left to dry out

NASHVILLE, TN – The State Fire Marshal’s Office is reminding Tennesseans with natural, fresh-cut Christmas trees in their homes to take care to keep them in water, because of the fire risk posed when they are allowed to dry out.

“The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that there is an estimated annual average of 240 home structure fires that begin with Christmas trees,” State Fire Marshal and Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak says. “Properly maintaining a cut Christmas tree’s moisture content of more than 100 percent by keeping it in water significantly reduces the chance that its needles will dry out and pose a fire hazard.”

NFPA studies also have found that, on average, one of every 18 Christmas tree fires causes a fatality, compared with an average of one death per 141 non-confined home fires. Fires involving Christmas trees cause all of the related fatalities when they spread beyond the room where the fire begins, which is 33 percent of the time.

“We’re in the midst of the winter holiday season,” McPeak says. “It’s imperative – amid the hustle and bustle of holiday events – that residents remember to practice good fire safety and make sure to never leave trees near heat sources, especially dried-out trees.”

To illustrate the short time in which a dry, cut Christmas tree can catch fire and engulf a room in flames, the Tennessee Fire Marshal’s office is distributing links to two videos produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

http://1.usa.gov/v6OFLT – side-by-side comparison of the burn rates of a properly maintained tree and a dried-out tree.
http://1.usa.gov/uzAmw1 – Christmas tree fire rapidly overtaking a room.

For further information on protecting your home from fire hazards, particularly during the winter months, visit http://www.tn.gov/commerce/sfm or call 615-741-2981.

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