Christmas Tree Fire Safety Regulations in Public Occupancies

Regulated Occupancies must follow specific guidelines if they choose to place natural cut or artificial trees in their facilities.  This includes public assemblies, schools, institutions, retail stores, high-rise buildings, and public areas of hotels, motels, apartment and condo buildings. 

What is a Regulated Occupancy?  It can be confusing, but the Fire Department has created a chart (see below) to help building managers and occupants know what types of trees are allowed, or restricted, in the various types of Regulated Occupancies.

The most important guidelines are outlined below.  For more information, please refer to the SFFD Division of Fire Prevention & Investigation's Informational Bulletin:
Use of Christmas Trees in Regulated Occupancies (PDF) .

  1. Natural cut trees are prohibited in occupancies where persons may require the assistance of others to exit.
  2. Occupancies such as schools, hotels and retail stores may display natural cut trees only when they are protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system and when they are treated with an approved fire retardant.
  3. Support devices for natural cut trees must meet certain criteria.
  4. Natural cut trees shall be removed from the premises when the needles fall off readily when a tree branch is shaken.
  5. Before purchasing an artificial tree, consumers should verify that it meets the flame propagation performance criteria of NFPA 701 by reading the packaging.

Questions regarding Christmas tree regulations may be directed to the San Francisco Fire Department's Bureau of Fire Prevention at: (415) 558-3300.

 INFO BULLETIN - Nov 11, 2010 - Summary Chart