Dry Christmas Trees Can be a DISASTER!

Trees used indoors for the holidays account for approximately 400 fires annually, resulting in 10 deaths, 80 injuries and more than $15 million in property damage. These videos demonstrate how quickly the fire can develop when a DRY tree is exposed to an open flame. These videos are developed by National Institute of Standards and Technology, and are made available in the public domain.

Properly maintain your cut Christmas tree to maintain a high moisture content in the needles of the tree. This will help to limit accidental ignition and prevent a rapid flame spread fire from developing in your home.  A tree which has dry needles can readily ignite and generate heat release rates that are capable of causing flashover in residential sized rooms. Watch this video to see just how rapidly the fire spreads!

Now, See the difference between how rapidly a dry tree ignites compared to a properly hydrated tree:

This video show a dry tree fire in non-sprinklered room. The camera view is from the couch

Now, see what a difference there is when residential sprinklers are installed in your home! Think about the prior videos, and how much fire and how much damage there will be to your home by the time the fire department arrives to fight the fire. This is a good reason to install fire sprinklers in your home!

These videos are produced by Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology which is part of the US Department of Commerce (http://www.nist.gov/el/) . They may be downloaded directly from my page, or by going to:  http://www.fire.nist.gov/tree_fire.htm

Other useful resources listed by the Engineering Laboratory include:

For Holiday Fire Safety tips, please refer to the United States Fire Administration


and the Maryland State Fire Marshal


Information on the heat release rate of Scotch Pine Trees can be found at


Information on the heat release rate of Fraser Fir trees and the impact of a residential sprinkler on the heat release rate can  found at


*** A high resolution video (broadcast quality) can be obtained by contacting Dan Madrzykowski at madrzy@nist.gov

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