FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 18, 2014

Division of Fire Safety Reminds Residents of Potential Fire Hazards and Stresses Safety during the Holiday Season

TRENTON, N.J. - In advance of the holiday season, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ (DCA) Division of Fire Safety professionals are reminding residents about holiday fire hazards that can pose as potential threats and cause electrical fires. These dangers include dry and unwatered natural trees, decorations both inside and outside the home and burning candles left unattended.

Additionally, with the onset of cold weather, the use of both traditional and alternative home heating devices, and the possibility of long-term power failures resulting from severe storms, can increase the possibility fire as well as carbon monoxide poisoning.

"Whether it is the tradition of an evergreen located in the home, candles left unattended or other potential risks associated with the onset of cold weather, it is important to stress safety precautions during the holiday season," said William Kramer, Jr., Acting Director and State Fire Marshal. "For instance, if a natural tree is part of your holiday celebration,  make certain it’s fresh when purchased, watered frequently, kept away from any heat source and recycled as soon as possible."

Statistics from the National Fire Prevention Association identify the many causes for holiday fires:

         One of every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.

         A heat source too close to the tree causes roughly one in every six of Christmas tree fires.

         More than half (56 percent) of home candle fires occur when something that can catch on fire is too close to the candle.

         December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In December, 11 percent of home candle fires began with decorations compared to 4 percent the rest of the year.

Source: National Fire Protection Association


The most effective defense in preventing a fire emergency continues to be a working smoke and CO alarm on every level of the home coupled with a family escape plan.

Kramer adds that carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from its accumulation inside the home as the result of a malfunctioning heater, or an alternative heat source such as a fireplace, is dangerous as is the use of a propane or gasoline powered generator in an enclosed area adjacent a home during an extended power outage.

Technology and social media can mitigate some of these threats by providing the general public with a steady stream of information on safe, tested devices and their alternatives, real-time advisories and reminders to increase awareness of fire safety hazards during the holidays.


         Smoke and CO alarms, such as Nest versions, are evolving from attention getting beeps to audio/visual warnings to leave the home.

         Though the traditional holiday candle provides atmosphere, electronic LED alternatives can provide both attractive accent lighting effects and aromas.

         LED lighting and fire retardant materials have been re-engineered into stunning visual displays that provide low-energy, low-radiant heat alternatives to traditional trees combining delicate decorations, hot lights and dry needles.

         Smart phone technology provides individuals with localized advance warning of impending storms and real-time home monitoring.


         You Tube:  a dramatic Christmas Tree Safety video.

         Twitter: (#winter) provides a wealth of Holiday safety resources.

         Facebook: Post this link to candle safety on your Facebook page timeline:

The Division of Fire Safety serves as the central fire service agency in the State. The Division is responsible for the development and enforcement of the State Uniform Fire Code, as well as for implementing public education and firefighter training programs. The Division wishes both the men and women of the state fire service and the communities they serve a safe and healthy holiday season.

Lisa Ryan
(609) 292-6055