Press Release | Holiday Fire Safety

For Immediate Release
November 23, 2010


Wintertime is the most dangerous time of the year for injuries and deaths from fire.  Each year, approximately 450 children ages 14 and under die in residential fires; children under the age of 5 are at the greatest risk.

The Fire Marshal’s office has compiled important ways to prevent these tragedies, as always installing and maintaining a smoke alarm and having a home fire escape plan are at the top of that list.

Decorative lighting should be labeled with the seal of an independent testing lab and should only be used outdoors if it’s labeled for outdoor use. If you decorate a tree, we recommend these precautions:

  • Never leave a lighted tree or other decorative lighting display unattended. Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections, and broken sockets. Do not overload extension cords or outlets and do not run an electrical cord under a rug.
  • Natural holiday trees always involve some risk of fire. To minimize the risk, get a fresh tree and keep it watered at all times. Do not put the tree within three feet of a fireplace, space heater, radiator, or heat vent. A dry tree can burn quickly, as demonstrated in this video:
  • Decorate with children in mind. Avoid ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or that look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach them. Trim protruding branches at or below a child’s eye level, and keep lights out of reach.
  • Do not burn holiday tree branches, treated wood, or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.

And, speaking of fireplaces, more than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heat sources in their homes. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the fire risks when heating with wood and solid fuels. Heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. Often these fires are due to creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. All home heating systems require regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently. Helpful fireplace tips include:

  • Have your chimney or wood stove inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney specialist.
  • Clear the area around the hearth of debris, decorations, and flammable materials.
  • Always use a metal mesh screen with fireplaces. Leave glass doors open while burning a fire.
  • Keep air inlets on wood stoves open, and never restrict air supply to fireplaces. Otherwise you may cause creosote buildup that could lead to a chimney fire.
  • Use fire-resistant materials on walls around wood stoves.

We hope that you will focus on fire safety this holiday season to prevent a fire in your home, as well as informing others of these important fire safety tips. We also take this time to remind you to install a smoke alarm on every level of your house and check the battery monthly. Completing these safety checks may save your life. For a free smoke detector installed in your home in Fayetteville call the Fire Marshals office at 718-7607 or Fire Station 1 at 442-6131.

The Fayetteville Fire Department wishes you a “Fire Safe Holiday Season”. For additional information about fire safety, you may contact Battalion Chief Terry Lawson at 479-718-7639.