School of Civil Engineering

Mentor: Angus Law

Project Team: Joseph Cabonce and Sohan Roopra


Project Brief

Christmas trees are an integral part of tradition however they represent a growing fire hazard. Studies in the US show that from 2009-2013 Christmas trees initiated around 210 fires annually, while 1 in 31 fires resulted in fatalities (Ahrens, 2015). Ahrens (2015) also states that the fires were also estimated to have caused up to $17.5 million in direct property damage.

Due to a lack of comprehensive data on Christmas tree fires, and an increased need to understand the fires, fire engineers at Arup contacted Professor Jose Torrero to conduct a study that relates various parameters in real and artificial Christmas is to be conducted. The study aims to gain information on:

heat profiles of the duration of the fire, as opposed to time to peak information currently available; and
smoke produced in the fire.

The study aims to establish a correlation between tree height and fire size. Additionally, the study is to be extended to artificial trees, to test the hypothesis that toxic fumes are the greatest hazard for artificial Christmas tree fires. 


Project Report

Students Joseph Cabonce and Sohan Roopra conducted preliminary research on available data on real Christmas tree fires. The gaps in knowledge were identified, as some studies contained more data such as mass of tree, moisture content, plume temperature and tree height. At this stage, data needs to be gathered by conducting burning experiments once trees are shipped.