Holidays Fire Safety

Fire Chief

Stan Sharp
[email protected]
(865) 595-4480

Public Safety Complex
1630 Huron St., Bldg. C
Knoxville, TN 37917

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The Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, New Years, etc. traditionally present the biggest fire danger to citizens and is the cause of a great number of fires and burn injuries due to fireworks. Fireworks include devices which make a visible or audible effect when set off. Most fires occur in dry brush and grass, but several homes are destroyed or damaged. Fires are caused by careless handling of fireworks in areas exposed to sparks or live fireworks.

Nationally, more than $36 million in property is damaged each year due to fireworks.

Of all the holidays, the Fourth of July is responsible for most burn injuries associated with premature detonation or misuse of fireworks. The Maricopa County Burn Unit reports the most burn injuries on the Fourth of July. These are only the numbers of fireworks injuries reported to hospital emergency rooms. Because many injuries are not treated in emergency rooms, experts believe the total number of fireworks injuries may be far more.

Most fireworks burn injuries involve children. These are usually burns to the hands and eyes causing vision impairment and disfiguring scars. Sparklers are the biggest danger to children. A tip temperature at the end of the sparkler reaches 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and can easily cause a burn.

Yes, people can die from fireworks and the fires they cause. In 1985, 26 people were killed this way. That's a large improvement compared to 1902, when fireworks were legal in most states. In that year, fireworks and fireworks-related fires killed more than 200 people.

Citizens with a complaint should call 9-1-1.

Some people think that just because some fireworks are legal in some states, they are more safe. The largest share of fireworks injuries are caused by fireworks, the kind that are legal in many states.

Leave fireworks to the professionals.

Restrictions on fireworks are for a good cause. No matter how small or large a fireworks may be, it is a potential fire starter. But it is still possible to celebrate and enjoy the holidays. Families can consult the newspaper or local activity calendar and attend one of several approved, licensed fireworks displays around the Valley. 


Halloween is meant to be spooky and fun but it's also important to keep it safe for your children, your friends and yourself.

A simple ghost costume made from an ordinary bed sheet can be consumed by flames if ignited. Purchase only flame-retardant costumes and masks. And be sure costumes fit properly to prevent tripping and falling. Masks should allow full vision.

If trick-or-treating door-to-door, wear something reflective, carry a flashlight and travel in groups for safety. Keep well off the streets and remove masks before crossing the streets. Better yet, have a spooky party and stay in with your friends.

Check all treats carefully before eating them. Report anything suspicious. Instead of a candle to light a jack-o-lantern, use a small flashlight or a liquid light that glows for several hours after you bend it.

Never use combustible materials in a haunted house, especially styrofoam and other plastics, gauze type materials and other loose flammables such as leaves and papers. These materials can quickly cause the spread of fire. This situation can be especially dangerous when the fire starts in a confined space such as the dark interior of a haunted house display.

Haunted house operators should be careful not to block exits for fire escape and emergency lighting systems must remain in operable condition. Fire escapes also should be clearly marked. People with questions on what materials are acceptable for use in putting up a haunted house display should contact the Knoxville Fire Department. 


Christmas trees that are not kept moist can present a very serious fire hazard. A dried out Christmas tree can be totally consumed by fire in less than 30 seconds. Most trees sold in the Valley have been cut out of the state and have been drying out since they were harvested, which could have been as late as mid-November. Take special precautions when buying your Christmas tree. Trees with brown shedding needles should be rejected. If the tree looks green and fresh, take a long needle and bend it between your thumb and forefinger. If it snaps, the tree is too dry. Look for trees with needles that bend. When the trunk of a tree is bounced on the ground, a shower of falling needles shows that tree is dry.

When you bring a tree home, cut about an inch off the end of the trunk. This will remove the dried end and allow the tree to absorb water. Make checkerboard cuts into the base at different angles to make a greater surface for water absorption.

Always turn off lights on trees and other decorations when you go to bed or leave your home. A short circuit in any of this equipment could cause a fire. Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. Damaged insulation in lighting on a metallic tree could cause the entire tree to be charged with electricity. To avoid this danger, use colored spotlights above or beside a metal tree, never fastened onto it.

Keep children away from light sets and electrical decorations. All lights present the problem of shock and casualty hazards for curious kids. When you are stringing the lights on your tree, be careful how you place them. Keep all bulbs turned away from gifts and paper ornaments. Lights in windows can cause curtains and drapes to ignite.

Candles are a traditional and beautiful part of the season. But they are still a direct source of fire in your home. Keep candles a safe distance from other things. And remember that a flickering flame is a thing of fascination to little children. Keep candles out of their reach.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens.
  • Always use non-flammable holders.
  • Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper.
  • Place candles where they cannot be knocked down or blown over.
Dispose of gift wrappings soon after opening presents. A room full of paper lying around on the floor is just one more holiday hazard. Place trash in an approved container. Do not burn wrappings in the fireplace. They may ignite suddenly and cause a flash fire.

Christmas Gifts
One of the best Christmas gifts you can get someone is a smoke alarm. A smoke alarm is worth so much, possibly a loved one's life, yet so inexpensive. Over 90 percent of fire deaths occur in residential dwellings between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. when occupants are asleep. Smoke alarms alert occupants when a fire is still small and there is still time to escape.

Holiday Plants
Holly and mistletoe can be fatal to a small child and the smaller the child, the smaller the dose that can cause serious medical problems. Poinsettia leaves are not fatal if swallowed, but can cause a skin rash and an upset stomach. Call 9-1-1 if your children ingest any of these holiday plants.

Trimming The Tree
When choosing the finishing touches for decorating your tree, purchase tinsel or artificial icicles of a non-leaded material. Leaded materials may be hazardous if eaten by children or pets.

Avoid any decorations that tend to break easily or have sharp edges. Keep tree trimmings that are small or have removable parts out of the reach of your child. These pieces may be swallowed.

Use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the UL label from Underwriters Laboratories or another reputable testing agency. Check each set of lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections.

Check labels of lights to be used outdoors to see that they are suitable for outdoor use. Never use indoor lights outside. Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, walls or other firm support to protect them from wind damage. Use no more than three sets of lights per single extension. Read the manufacturer's instructions carefully and do not use more than the recommended number of lights in one circuit.