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City Manager's Office
City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Gil Dong, Deputy Fire Chief, (510) 981-5501


Berkeley, California (Thursday, December 09, 2010) - Throughout the holiday season, family and friends will gather to share the warmth that only this time of year brings.  Unfortunately, these seasons are also characterized by a tremendous amount of fires, many of which are traced back to seasonal decorations. Most fires can be prevented by following a few simple suggestions.


• Buy a fresh tree that has been recently cut where the needles are hard to pull from the branches.  When bent between your fingers, fresh needles do not break.  The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin.  When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, you should not see a shower of falling needles.

• Before placing the tree in a stand, make a fresh cut to the trunk of the tree at least 2” up from the base to help the tree absorb water. Trim off the bottom branches as necessary to set the tree trunk completely into the base of a sturdy water-holding stand.

• Place your tree at least 3 feet away from wood stoves, heaters or fireplaces. Do not place the tree in high traffic areas or near doorways. Water the tree at least once each day. Turn the lights off when you leave home or go to bed.

• Use only “UL” listed decorations and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the number of strings that can be hooked together in one line.  Usually no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord is recommended. Make sure all electrical cords are in good shape, discarding those with broken sockets, bear or cracked wiring or faying.


• Use caution when stringing lights that you don’t punch holes in the light cords with staples, nails or connectors. Use appropriate extension cord which will handle the load you place on it. Make sure you use fuses of the proper type and size. 


• Make sure candles are mounted in a secure nonflammable base that will not tip easily. Never leave a candle unattended or where young children can reach them. Never use candles on or near a Christmas tree.


• Do not burn boxes and wrapping paper in the fireplace, a chimney fire may occur. When discarding your Christmas tree, don’t burn it in your fireplace.


• Check your smoke alarms and ensure it operates. 

With a little caution and some common sense planning, you can make sure that your holidays are safe and happy.  Your safety begins at home.  Give your family a gift they can live with, teach them to be fire safe. Fire extinguishers and smoke alarms make great gifts or stocking stuffers.


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