A tale of two Christmas tree fires: One with sprinklers, the other without

Blog Post created by ryan.quinn Employee on Dec 23, 2013

Christmas tree fireLast week, two separate Christmas tree fires were reported by Northshore News in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; and South Carolina's The State, with vastly different outcomes. The home's fire sprinklers controlled the first fire and no one was hurt; the other fire was caused the death of two precious children.

The City of North Vancouver Fire Department responded to a townhouse fire to find the home's fire sprinkler system had extinguished it. “Luckily the townhouse unit has a sprinkler system in the building,” said fire chief Dan Pistilli.

The tree ignited when the homeowner lit a sparkler for their young child and got too close to the tree, said Pistilli. He also said the situation could have been much worse. “If the unit did not have a sprinkler system it would have been a different result.”

He is right. In Lexington County, South Carolina, holiday joy turns to tragedy, as a family tries to cope with the death of two small children after an electrical malfunction ignited a Christmas tree. This home was not proteced by fire sprinklers. Investigators said it’s likely that fire sprinklers would have put the fire out and saved the children’s lives.

NFPA statistics reveal that on average one of every 40 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 142 total reported home fires.

Christmas trees burn fast and hot. Families may have less than 30 seconds to escape alive, as seen in the following video demonstration from the National Institute of Science and Technology:


Fire sprinklers will act quickly and effectively to control the fire, providing additional escape time and allowing families to survive.

Read NFPA’s Christmas tree safety tips and home fire sprinklers information.