Winter holiday fires by the numbers

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Christmas trees
  • Between 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 7 deaths, 19 injuries, and $17.5 million in direct property damage annually. 
  • On average, one of every 31 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home fires.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 38% of home Christmas tree fires.
  • Twenty-two percent of Christmas tree fires were intentional. 
  • Two of every five (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.

Source: NFPA's "Home Structure Fires Involving Christmas Trees" report, November 2015



A live Christmas tree burn conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows just how quickly a dried out Christmas tree fire burns, with flashover occurring in less than one minute, as compared to a well-watered tree, which burns at a much slower rate.

Holiday decorations
  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 860 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, in 2009-2013. These fires caused an annual average of one civilian fire death, 41 civilian fire injuries and $13.4 million in direct property damage.

  • Ten percent of decoration fires were intentional.
  • The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in nearly half (45%) of the fires.
  • One-fifth (20%) of the decoration fires started in the kitchen. One out of six (17%) started in the living room, family room or den.
  • One-fifth (20%) of the home decoration fires occurred in December. 

Source: NFPA's "Home Structure Fires Involving Decorations" report, November 2015.

Candles
  • Candles started 38% of home decoration structure fires. 
  • Half (51%) of the December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to one-third (35%) in January to November.

  • The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve.

Source: NFPA's "Home Structure Fires Involving Decorations" report, November 2015.
Holiday cooking
  • Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

  • Cooking equipment was involved in 18% of home decoration fires. This can happen when a decoration is left on or too close to a stove or other cooking equipment.

Source: NFPA's "Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment" report, November 2015.

Fireworks
  • Ten percent of fireworks fires occur during the period from December 30 through January 3, with the peak on New Year's Day.

Source: NFPA's "Fireworks" report, June 2013.


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