Christmas Fire Prevention: Don't let the holiday go up in flames

  • Published
  • Base Fire Department

Christmas time reminds us of family, food, twinkling lights and fragrant evergreens. It's the time of year for blessings past and future, which includes family gatherings for a festive time by all. 

The Robins AFB Fire Department would like to remind the base community that while Christmas is beautiful, without fire prevention precautions, festive occasions can become tragedies.


Christmas trees are often the center of holiday festivities. It's also the center of many holiday fires. Christmas trees are naturally grown or artificially manufactured. Artificial trees come in many shapes and sizes to suit almost any taste. Choose an artificial tree which is flame resistant and for use indoors. A flame resistant tree is designed to resist ignition and flame spread, and is not as likely to be the source of a fire. 


In the workplace, only artificial Christmas trees are permitted. 

Trees must be listed and have a fire-resistive rating. Christmas tree lights must be unplugged each day, and never be left on unattended. Exit aisles and access ways must be kept clear for their intended use in an emergency. Office decorations should never camouflage or obstruct exits, or interfere with the operation of fire alarm pull stations and fire sprinkler systems. The burning of candles and other similar open flame devices within facilities are prohibited with the exception of military family housing.


Live Christmas trees are permitted in military family housing.


Freshness is the most important thing to consider when buying a live Christmas tree. Consider visiting a tree farm where you can pick out and harvest your own tree.  If buying a previously cut tree, bend some needles to check for freshness. If the needles are brittle and break, the tree is too dry.  Gently tap the end of the tree trunk on the ground; if many needles fall, the tree is too dry. Don’t depend on how green a tree is to judge its freshness; trees are sprayed to enhance their color.  ut the bottom of the tree at an angle about one inch above the original cut. Place the tree in a sturdy stand and securely anchor it. Place trees away from the fireplace, high traffic areas, furnace radiators, and other heat sources. Always allow exits to remain clear and accessible. Check and refill the water level daily keeping it full at all times.


Housing residents should never place lit candles on or near a Christmas tree or around decorations. Keep candles, matches, and lighters up high out of children’s reach. Make sure all candles have been extinguished before leaving the room or going to sleep. Check tree lighting sets, electric candles, similar holiday lighting equipment, as well as extension cords, for frayed wiring, loose connections, and broken sockets. 


Use decorative lighting which carries the UL label. Unlabeled materials, seldom meet safety standards. Use indoor lights only for indoors and outdoors lights only for outdoors never using the two types in series. Never leave decorative lights unattended. Unplug lights and decorations before you leave the house or going to bed.  Keep lights at least six inches from all combustibles and never allow light bulbs to come in contact with combustible materials.


Decorations should be fire resistive and be listed or labeled. Spray can snow, angel hair, or Styrofoam can produce chemical reactions that are highly dangerous. If a spray can substance is used, follow the container directions carefully. Decorations such as paper, flowers, tinsel, streamers, scenery etc., are also manufactured with flame resistant ratings. All decorations should be kept to a minimum.


In the event a fire begins it is important to remember the following steps:


  • Remain calm
  • Call the fire department via 9-1-1, or 478-222-2900 from a non-base number
  • Answer all the emergency operator’s questions
  • Proceed to a safe area away from the fire, ensuring others stay away
  • Give pertinent information to first arriving firefighters
  • Inform your supervisor of your well-being as well as accounting for your coworkers
  • Account for all family members and guests if at home


Only attempt to extinguish the fire after all other steps are performed and you have been properly trained in the use of portable fire extinguishing equipment. Fires that have spread from where they originally began cannot be extinguished with hand-held extinguishers; you must ensure professional firefighters are called in! 

With proper fire prevention planning and practices, your work place and home can be a happy and safe place for the holiday season.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Base Fire Prevention Office at extension DSN: 468-2145 or 478-926-2145.