Christmas tree safety being enhanced at CVTC Fire Safety Center

Published: Dec. 13, 2016 at 6:15 PM CST
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According to the National Fire Protection Association, one out of every 34 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death.

The unique facility at Chippewa Valley Technical College's west campus allows companies like OneEvent Technologies in Mount Horeb to come up here and work at bringing those numbers down.

OneEvent CEO and co-founder Kurt Wedig – along with his team have spent the last week-plus in Eau Claire to test out new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – which let customers know when a fire may be imminent.

"What we're doing is taking fire safety from reaction to prevention. Our motto is: to predict, alert and prevent," Wedig said to WEAU 13 News on Tuesday.

OneEvent was allowed to build a structure to simulate a 900 square foot apartment inside’s CVTC’s Fire Safety Center, allowing both organizations to try and gain an edge in fire prevention – especially, this time of the year.

"Each year, we hear approximately three or four Christmas tree fires in our immediate area,” CVTC Fire Safety Center coordinator Red Van Ert said to WEAU 13 News on Tuesday. “It does not take long. Some of the trees go up very fast, some of the trees go up a little slower."

Van Ert said the simulations with OneEvent give his crew a chance to show – and remind – people where they need to be putting smoke and CO detectors. He says the two top locations are by where you sleep and where you cook.

"Those are the most important places, because that's where most of the fire start,” he said. “Approximately 43% of home fires are started in the kitchen and the other part is that night you wanted to be able to alert the occupants of the rooms as best they can."

As for your Christmas tree, Van Ert said as much as people will want to show them off, always watch for where you place it and look to avoid possible flammable objects. He points to windows as one location, since they could be near potentially- flammable drapes.

"There's no reason to not do your decorating and do the things you've done. Just keep those small safety features in mind," he said.