Public display of living Christmas trees will be banned during the holidays

The way hotels, condos, restaurants and other public places decorate for the Christmas season will be changing come the next holiday season when it comes to tree displays.

The state adopted national fire protection policies back in 2010. The county followed suit, but hasn’t begun enforcing the new rules. But that will change later later this year when the holidays roll around again.

Among places that will no longer be allowed to display living Christmas trees because of the fire hazard will be hotels, condominium and apartment building lobbies, restaurants, schools, assembly halls and ballrooms, and even detention and correctional facilities.

“Certainly our goal within the next 11 months is to help them to understand what the rules are, and that they don’t include having a live, cut tree,” said Honolulu Fire Dept. Battalion chief Terry Seelig. “But there are other options — they can actually have artificial, or a limited amount of cut vegetation, so they could have wreaths, but they have to be in the appropriate place.”

While live trees will be banned in lobbies, they are still allowed in individual apartment and condominium units.

Seelig said his department will spend the following months educating those businesses affected by these rules so that everyone understands the new guidelines — this includes Christmas tree vendors, who will be losing a considerable amount of sales as a result of the new guidelines.

“They’re going to have to adjust and change the business model and we certainly understand that but we feel that we’re giving them enough notice and we talk to them the past perhaps not as much as needed and that’s the other part of the campaign,” said Seelig.


The following information is excerpted from National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1, Fire Code (2012 edition)

10.14 Combustible Vegetation

10.14.1 Combustible vegetation, including natural cut Christmas trees, shall be in accordance with Section 10.14. Christmas tree placement within buildings shall comply with Table

10.14.2 In any occupancy, limited quantities of combustible vegetation shall be permitted where the AHJ determines that adequate safeguards are provided based on the quantity and nature of the combustible vegetation.

10.14.3* Provisions for Fire Retardance for Artificial Vegetation. Artificial vegetation and artificial Christmas trees shall be labeled or otherwise identified or certified by the manufacturer as being fire retardant. Such fire retardance shall be demonstrated by each individual decorative vegetation item, including any decorative lighting, in an approved manner.

10.14.4 Vegetation and Christmas trees shall not obstruct corridors, exit ways, or other means of egress.

10.14.5 Only listed electrical lights and wiring shall be used on natural or artificial combustible vegetation, natural or artificial Christmas trees, and other similar decorations.

10.14.6 Electrical lights shall be prohibited on metal artificial trees.

10.14.7 Open flames such as from candles, lanterns, kerosene heaters, and gas-fired heaters shall not be located on or near combustible vegetation, Christmas trees, or other similar combustible materials.

10.14.8 Combustible vegetation and natural cut Christmas trees shall not be located near heating vents or other fixed or portable heating devices that could cause it to dry out prematurely or to be ignited.

10.14.9 Provisions for Natural Cut Trees. Where a natural cut tree is permitted, the bottom end of the trunk shall be cut off with a straight fresh cut at least 1/2 in. (13 mm) above the end prior to placing the tree in a stand to allow the tree to absorb water. The tree shall be placed in a suitable stand with water. The water level shall be maintained above the fresh cut and checked at least once daily.* The tree shall be removed from the building immediately upon evidence of dryness.

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