Rutherford County Fire & Rescue Officials Stress Christmas Tree Safety


The days following Thanksgiving are a popular time for families to put up Christmas trees and other dazzling decorations. Rutherford County Fire & Rescue (RCFR) officials want the community to be “fire smart” this season; acknowledging that a small fire that spreads to a Christmas tree can grow large very quickly!

“We want to increase awareness about holiday fire safety in Rutherford County,” said Fire & Rescue Chief Larry Farley. “In all the chaos most families are experiencing preparing for holiday activities, it’s easy to forget some important information regarding decorations.”

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that the top three days of the year for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. “This is why you should only use decorations that are flame-retardant or not flammable,” said Farley, “and never leave a burning candle unattended.”

Lit candles should never be used to decorate a Christmas tree. Battery-operated flameless candles are growing in popularity as an acceptable alternative to traditional candles.

Live Christmas trees are beautiful and fragrant, but they can also be a fire hazard if they are not handled with proper care.

Tree Selection and Placement

When choosing a tree, only those with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched should be considered. Before placing the tree in the stand, two inches should be cut away from the base of the trunk. The tree should be at least three feet away from any heat source including fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, or lights. Trees should NEVER block an exit. Water should be added to the stand immediately and maintained daily to keep it from becoming dry.


Only use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory; some are only regulated for indoors OR outdoors. Worn and broken cords or loose bulb connections should be replaced. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for the number of light strands to connect. Lights should always be turned off before leaving the home or going to bed.

Farley reminds citizens that it is imperative to have working smoke alarms in the home. “A working smoke alarm should be placed on every level of your home, with at least one outside each bedroom area,” he said. If you need assistance with your alarms or you are interested in having RCFR install free alarms, please contact the office at 615-867-4626 Monday-Friday from 8:00 am-4:30 pm.8

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