While why a felled tree is seen as a representation of Christmas is the topic of much debate, the San Francisco Fire Department doesn't care about symbolism — they just want to make sure that your tree isn't about to leave you homeless, or dead.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, "Christmas trees were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 210 reported home structure fires per year, resulting in an annual average of seven civilian fire deaths, 19 civilian fire injuries, and $17.5 million in direct property damage."
And Christmas tree fires appear to be even more deadly than your regular old house fire caused by other means, as "one of every 31 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home fires," the NFPA says.
Stats like that are why the SFFD caught one on fire in the middle of a San Francisco Street Tuesday, in a display intended to demonstrate how swiftly your celebratory pine, spruce, or fir might go up.
"It's very important to keep your live tree watered. They can dry out quickly. So we recommend checking the water level in the stand every two days, every other day," SFFD chief Joanne Hayes-White said.
"Don't place the tree near a heater, a fireplace, or any other heat source. And you want to make sure you don't have any frayed wires as well."
And when the holiday is over, the SFFD urges you to feed your tree to a goat. That is not a euphemism! As was also the case last year, SF-based landscaping company City Grazing, which employs a team of goats to "clear public and private land" (you know these guys), is eager to feed their goats your ornament-free tree.
"The goats love to eat the trees, which provide vitamins, minerals and are even thought to offer natural intestinal worm prevention for the herd," City Grazing writes on their website.
"We love being able to offer another way for goats to prevent fires - eating brush and weeds for fire mitigation strategies is a large part of our work year round."
The goats will be ready to chow down on your ornament, tinsel, lights, and fake snow-free tree from 12-4 p.m. on December 27th, January 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 9th and 10th or from 4-6 p.m. on December 30th, January 6th, and January 13th. Just take your tree to100 Cargo Way, which is near the intersection of Cargo and Jennings, and "park in front of the goat mural."