Sinneh Rose stands in the living room of her Shutesbury home last December, after the family's Christmas tree caught fire and damaged much of the rented house. On Christmas Day, 1995, Greenfield firefighters responded to a Phillips Street apartment building that had gone up in flames. With October this year will come a new set of regulations for private landlords, ensuring that every floor of a rented property will have a functioning smoke alarm, and every room with a solid fuel burning appliance will have a carbon monoxide alarm. In the next three years legislation from the Energy Act 2011 will require all private rental properties to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard, an EPC rating of at least ‘E’.

A scheme has been launched in Hampshire to ensure rented homes are fire safe. There are about 400,000 people renting rooms or houses in the area. Although the Roses’ tree was touched off by fireplace embers, even an old strand of Christmas lights can be enough to start a blaze.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, firefighters respond to an average of 230 structure fires each year that started with a Christmas tree.
Firefighters were able to determine that the fire started when the family’s Christmas tree, set up feet from their fireplace, was ignited by a stray ember.

The fire blocked the interior stairs, and several second- and third-floor residents had to be helped off the fire escape, said Michael Winn, Greenfield fire chief. Though the heat from a baseboard may not be enough to start a tree on fire, it is enough to dry it out, making it more combustible.

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