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Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service

Christmas Tree Guidelines

The following is the Winnipeg Fire Department's policy pertaining to Christmas Trees. This Christmas Tree policy applies to all buildings except private homes and suites.

Natural Trees
Property owners and managers must be aware that if not property maintained a natural tree has the potential to burn rapidly once ignited. Fire will spread quickly to nearby combustibles. All requirements must be strictly adhered to in order to ensure an adequate level of safety for occupants and buildings.
  • The base of the tree is to be cut diagonally immediately prior to the display.
  • The base of the tree must be submerged in water continuously.
  • Trees are to be set up and properly supported in the coolest possible place – away from heat sources such as hot air registers, portable heaters, fireplaces, candles, spot lights etc.
  • Trees must be kept clear of exits and paths of exit travel.
  • Natural trees shall not be decorated with lights.
  • Spotlights used to illuminate trees shall be CSA approved and located a safe distance from the tree and any combustibles. Due to the intense heat generated from these lights it is recommended a 3-4 foot clearance be maintained.
  • Only non-combustible/flame resistant decorations are to be used.
  • Needles must be checked daily for freshness. If there is any indication of dryness, needles falling etc. trees are to be removed immediately.
  • Security personnel or staff familiar with the alarm system, exiting facilities, and the use of portable extinguishers must be available at all times when the facilities are open to the public or occupied.
  • Tree maintenance must be designated to specific individuals.
  • A natural tree larger than 8 feet in height requires a container or stand capable of holding at least three to five gallons of water.
  • A natural tree less than 8 feet in height requires a container or stand capable of holding at least one gallon of water. The water level in the stand or container must be checked daily by a designated person.
  • Natural trees displayed in Institutional or Assembly Occupancies as well as in Public Shopping Malls must be treated with an approved flame retardant. Documentation verifying flame retardant treatments must be readily available upon request for examination by the Fire Department.

Metallic Trees
Lights should not be used on metallic trees due to the potential shock and fire hazard.

NOTE: Forestry Canada has published studies indicating that Christmas trees properly immersed in water will remain safe from a point source of heat for at least three weeks if installed reasonably fresh.

Conversely Christmas trees with prior outdoor storage may become highly flammable within three to eight days if left dry.

Last update: February 17, 2016