A common theme throughout UL’s journey in fire safety is that when presented with new products and market trends, UL responds with research, science, new requirements and certification programs. As the holiday season is upon us, in this month’s article we are sharing UL’s response to a holiday season related challenge.

In general, consumers are well aware of the potential fire hazard associated with the use of natural Christmas trees as a seasonal decoration. Numerous public service announcements and media stories remind consumers that Christmas trees must be frequently watered to reduce the possibility of a fire.

In recent years, an increasing number of households and commercial establishments are using artificial Christmas trees and there does not seem to be the same awareness around necessary safety precautions. Also, consumers can be misled by the tree packaging or advertisements that identify the tree or tree materials as “flame retardant.” These claims imply a certain level of fire performance, and can give consumers a false sense of safety.

As pre-lit artificial Christmas trees grew in popularity and size, it became necessary to review and adjust corresponding safety requirements to address the increased fire fuel load of the materials used to manufacture pre-lit trees. UL performed additional testing and confirmed theories that artificial trees can be a significant contributor to rapid fire growth within a room. This research eventually helped inform requirements to better understand a tree’s fire performance, thereby limiting its contribution to the growth of a fire and increasing the time available to consumers to escape. The publication of the requirements – in UL 2358 – and the introduction of fire performance criteria for pre-lit artificial Christmas trees are important parts of UL’s overall effort to decrease these fire safety risks.

UL is proud that UL safety-certified pre-lit artificial seasonal products are available in the marketplace today. These are products for which both the fire and electrical aspects for the complete assembled product have been evaluated. Reducing the Fire Hazard of Pre-Lit Artificial Christmas Trees, a recent UL whitepaper, reviews UL’s research that led to the development of performance testing criteria for pre-lit artificial trees. It also describes the testing required for certification to UL 2358, Outline of Investigation for Fire Tests of Pre-Lit Artificial Seasonal Use Trees and Other Seasonal Decorative Items.

Holidays should be a time for celebration and fun with family and friends – and UL’s mission is to help ensure that everyone can do so safely.

This campaign is part of an educational series of monthly articles featuring different topics that draw on UL’s history. To subscribe to the series, please click HERE or email firesafetyquote@ul.com for more information.