Fire Chief gives reminders for holiday fire safety, tips for tree disposal

ST. GEORGE – During the holiday season, many people have decorated their houses with lights, trees, and other holiday decorations, and trees can start drying out if not tended to properly; and in a week or two those live trees will need to be disposed of. St. George Fire Department Fire Chief Robert Stoker has some advice to keep your home safe and directions for safely disposing of your Christmas trees when you take them down.

“Most of the time you’re dealing with a lot of electrical problems, where people are putting up their trees, or lights outside,” Stoker said. “The biggest thing there is making sure you’re using the right extension cords. Those small, lightweight brown and white ones you have shouldn’t be used for this type of thing. People also tend to use indoor extension cords for outside uses, and that’s something we advise against.”

Stoker also said that if you have a live Christmas tree in your house, make sure to use a stand that holds water, as dry trees pose an extreme fire hazard.

There are several options for disposing of your tree after the season is over.

“If they’re able to cut their tree up into smaller pieces and do a small fire in their backyard, that’s fine,” Stoker said.

Some local troops of the Boy Scouts of America will be picking up trees, or you can take your tree to St. George City’s Reuse Center at 575 East Brigham Road.

In addition, the Washington County Solid Waste District has commissioned Allied Waste to pick up trees after Christmas. Customers will need to call Allied to arrange a pickup.

The following tips are guidelines from the National Fire Protection Association and FEMA:

Christmas trees and lights

  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit
  • Be sure to water Christmas trees daily
  • Use lights that are certified by a nationally recognized independent testing lab, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
  • Use indoor lights indoors, and outdoor lights outside
  • Make sure the tree is at least 3 feet away from any heat sources such as fireplaces, radiators, candles, heating vents or lights
  • Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots and excessive kinking or wear

Candles and stoves

  • If you use lit candles, make sure they are in stable holders, and place them where they cannot be knocked down easily
  • Make sure fireplaces or woodburning stoves are installed properly
  • Wood stoves should be of good quality, with a solid construction and design, and should be laboratory tested
  • Have the chimney inspected annually and cleaned if necessary
  • Do not use flammable liquids to start or accelerate a fire
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening to prevent embers or sparks from getting out, unwanted material from getting in, and prevent the burns
  • Woodburning stove should be burned hot twice a day for 15-30 minutes to reduce the amount of creosote buildup
  • Make sure every level of your home has a working smoke alarm
  • Check and clean fire alarms monthly
  • Plan and practice a home escape plan with your family
  • Contact your local fire department for advice if you have a question about home fire safety

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Email: bbrostrom@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  • Joe Smith December 20, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    “Some local troops of the Boy Scouts of America will be picking up trees, or you can take your tree to St. George City’s Reuse Center”

    Not sure if I would trust the boy scouts to handle these pine trees, they might toss them out into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist…

  • Joe Smith December 20, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Another good tip: don’t try to light up your outdoor gas or charcoal grill inside the house or garage. It never ends well…

    • Koolaid December 21, 2014 at 7:54 am

      Nor is it a good idea to celebrate the holidays by discharging your guns indoors.

  • Kibblesnbits December 20, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Beware of boy scout leaders.. they go around destroying national monuments

  • Herd December 21, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Any tips on roasting chestnuts over an open fire with jack frost nipping at your nose?

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