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State Fire Marshal’s Office urges fire safety for Christmas trees, shares demonstration videos

Friday, December 21, 2012 | 06:28am

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 230 home structure fires that begin with Christmas trees,” State Fire Marshal and Commerce & 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.”
The NFPA states these fires cause an average of four deaths, 21 injuries, and $17.3 million in direct property damage annually. Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they occur, they are likely to be serious. On average, one of every 66 reported fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in death. A heat source too close to the Christmas tree started one of every five (18%) of these fires. “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, visit www.tn.gov/commerce/sfm or call 615-741-2981. Our home fire safety checklist is at http://tn.gov/commerce/sfm/fsk/documents/checklist.pdf.  
 
The Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. www.tn.gov/commerce/, @TNCommerceInsur (Twitter), http://on.fb.me/uFQwUZ (Facebook), http://bit.ly/ry1GyX (YouTube) 
 
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