Press Release

University of Maryland to Host 2nd Annual Safety Demo on Christmas Tree Fires

MEDIA ADVISORY  December 11, 2015

Lee Tune
301 405 4679

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Department of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering will host its second annual Christmas tree fire safety demonstration on Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 10:30 am.

The demonstration will consist of a series of live fire experiments on both natural and artificial Christmas trees to show the burning behavior (size, intensity, and growth rate) of typical Christmas tree fires. These tests will replicate experiments that high school students conducted this fall as part of an on-campus, college-level program designed to spark their interest in, and develop their knowledge of the mathematics, physics, and chemistry concepts needed to solve engineering problems.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments respond to an annual average of 230 home structure fires that begin with Christmas trees.  Each year, these fires cause, on average, six civilian deaths, 22 civilian injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damages.

On January 19, 2015, a tragic fire destroyed home in Annapolis, Md., and claimed the lives of Don and Sandra Pyle and four of their grandchildren.  Investigators later revealed that an electrical failure had set a 15-foot tall, two-month-old Christmas tree ablaze. The tree was cited as the reason the fire quickly grew in intensity and out of control.

The experiments have been designed and will be conducted by Isaac Leventon, Ph.D., a researcher in the Department of Fire Protection Engineering.

Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. Registration required:

Department of Fire Protection Engineering, JM Patterson Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740

To view the full schedule of planned experiments, visit   

About the UMD Department of Fire Protection Engineering
In 1956, the Department of Fire Protection Engineering was established within the School of Engineering at the University of Maryland. To date, the department offers the only fully accredited undergraduate program and one of three graduate degree programs in the United States. More than 1,100 graduates from the Department are now employed in industry, insurance companies, Federal, state or local government, military, and fire service.

About the A. James Clark School of Engineering

The University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering is a premier program, ranked among the top 20 in the world. Located just a few miles from Washington, D.C., the Clark School is at the center of a constellation of high-tech companies and federal laboratories, offering students and faculty access to unique professional opportunities.

Our broad spectrum of academic programs, including the world’s only accredited undergraduate fire protection engineering program, is complemented by a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, early hands-on educational experiences, and participation in national and international competitions.

The Clark School is leading research advancements in aerospace, bioengineering, robotics, nanotechnology, disaster resilience, energy and sustainability, and cybersecurity. From the universal product code to satellite radio, SMS text messaging to the implantable insulin pump, our students, faculty, and alumni are engineering life-changing innovations for millions. Learn more at