Protect Tenants and Building from Christmas Tree Fire Hazards
As Christmas approaches, many of your tenants will be setting up Christmas trees in their apartments. While a beautifully decorated tree can add to the holiday spirit and help create a fragrant indoor atmosphere, Christmas trees can also pose a serious fire hazard to tenants' apartments as well as to your building. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Christmas trees account for an average of 200 fires annually, resulting in six deaths, 25 injuries, and more than $6 million in property damage. Typically, shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles, lighters, or matches start tree fires.
We consulted fire-safety expert Nancy Campbell and the resources of the New York City Fire Department for tips on how to prevent safety problems with Christmas trees. These tips emphasize the dangers of dry and neglected trees. In other words, tenants who choose well-watered fresh trees and who maintain them properly can greatly minimize the risk of fire.
From these suggestions, we put together a Model Letter: Give Tenants Dos and Donts for Christmas Tree Safety. The sections in the letter cover tips for choosing Christmas trees, caring for and decorating trees, and tree disposal. You can make copies of this list and distribute them to your tenants several weeks before Christmas. It can be a nice way of wishing your tenants the best for the holiday season and letting them know that the management cares about their safety.
Establish Tree Disposal Policy
In conjunction with providing a list of safety tips to your tenants, you should develop a tree-disposal policy if you don't already have one. A policy can make things easier for your building staff, and it can make your apartment building safer. It can make cleanup easier for your maintenance staff, since they will know which days are designated as tree-disposal days, and it will eliminate the potential danger of a fire starting in a pile of neglected and discarded trees. Here are some items your policy might cover:
Tell tenants that they should tie their trees up with twine when they are ready to get rid of them. Have twine available at the manager's office if they need it.
Give tenants a deadline for getting rid of their trees—for example, by January 16. The Department of Sanitation has announced that they will collect clean Christmas trees left at the curb for composting starting Monday, January 5 through Friday, January 16.
Tell them to remove all lights, ornaments, and stands from your tree before setting it out at the curb for collection. The Department of Sanitation says that trees that still have these items attached can't be composted and will be collected as trash.
Set certain days during the week for tenants to get rid of their trees—for example, Tuesdays and Thursdays. You may want to pick your normal trash-collection days.
Designate a spot where tenants can leave their trees.
Order an extra Dumpster for the weeks after Christmas.
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|Give Tenants Dos and Don'ts for Christmas Tree Safety|