“Recycle your Christmas tree, don’t burn it”, is the loud and clear message firefighters are giving this year due to a fear that an increase in real tree ownership could cause a spate of callouts.
Over the last five years, the Brigade has seen almost twice as many fires involving Christmas trees in January in comparison to December, which is believed to be due to people disposing their trees by burning them instead of recycling them safely. If the trend continues, there are concerns that with 2020 reportedly a bumper year for sales of real Christmas trees, the Brigade will see a spike in the number of callouts.
Lots of Christmas trees went up as early as the beginning of November this year and as they begin to dry out, they can burn quickly and cause flames to spread to nearby buildings or trees, putting lives at risk. With over 60 per cent of Christmas tree fires in the last five years occurring outdoors, including in private gardens or on street pavements, the Brigade is warning people who may be considering burning trees in their gardens to look at the alternative ways to dispose of them.
The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Paul Jennings, said: “Many will be aware of the dangers associated with faulty Christmas lights and candles being too close to Christmas trees, but you might not have known that a considerable amount of the fires we attend involving Christmas trees are actually caused by people burning them outdoors.
“It might not be as simple as packing up an artificial tree into a box, but there are lots of better ways you can safely recycle your real Christmas tree without the need to burn it. Many charities are able to collect Christmas trees, which is a great way to recycle your tree and support your local charity at the same time.”
Your local council may also be able to collect your tree for you or arrange a drop off point where they can organise for it to be recycled.
Mayor Philip Glanville, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said: “We can make the festive season even greener by planning to reuse and recycle seasonal waste as much as we can. We would encourage keeping your food waste to a minimum, using recyclable packaging where possible and, researching how best to dispose of your real Christmas tree.
“Many boroughs are offering designated drop-off sites, household waste recycling centres, or collection services for real Christmas trees to be recycled so we can all enjoy a more sustainable Christmas and New Year. Please head to your local council’s website to find out more information.”
Not only is setting fire to your Christmas tree incredibly dangerous, burning green waste, like Christmas trees, can also produce a lot of smoke which might affect neighbours and cause concerned locals to call us to report a fire.
Assistant Commissioner Jennings added: “Get the New Year off to a good start by recycling your Christmas tree and avoid a visit from us. If you have a Christmas tree with its roots still attached, why not try your hand at gardening and replant your tree. It’s better for the environment and will mean that you have a tree ready to go next year, saving you money too.”
It’s also important to avoid using Christmas trees as fuel in wood burners or open fires inside your home. Wood from pine trees, fir trees and spruces can produce a substantial amount of creosote, which is a flammable substance produced when burning wet wood. If this rises up the chimney, creosote deposits could ignite and cause flames to spread up the chimney and to the roof. As we head into the New Year it’s also a good time to make sure that your chimney and flues are clean and well maintained.