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City Manager's Office
City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Dory Ehrlich, Fire Department, (510) 981-7008


Berkeley, California (Tuesday, November 27, 2007) - December, January and February are the leading months for home fires and home fire deaths in the United States, but a majority of these fires are preventable. Follow these easy steps to keep your home and family safe from the threat of fire:

Christmas Trees

  • Choose a fresh tree: Needles should be green and hard to pull back from the branches. The trunk should be sticky.
  • Care for your tree: Keep your tree away from heat, including a fireplace or heating vent. Don’t leave your tree up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water.
  • Dispose of your tree: Never put branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The City of Berkeley will pick up Christmas trees on regular plant debris removal days during January.
  • If you use an artificial tree, make sure it’s flame retardant. 

Holiday Lights and Decorations

  • Keep all tinsel, garlands and greenery out of the reach of small children or pets.
  • Inspect your holiday lights for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive wear before putting them up.
  • Don’t link more than three light strands. Connect the light strings to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.
  • Periodically check the wires to be sure they are cool.
  • Never leave holiday lights on unattended.
  • Use only nonflammable or flame-retardant decorations.
  • Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace. 


  • Avoid lighting candles. If you light them, make sure they are in stable holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked down.
  • Never leave the house with candles burning.
  • Never put lit candles on a tree. 

For more information on holiday fire safety, call Berkeley’s Fire Prevention Office at 510-981-5585.


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