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Natural Christmas Tree Code Requirements


In response to recent action taken by the International Code Council and the State Fire Marshal’s Office, a modification to the current fire code requirements on natural cut Christmas trees is in effect. On December 5, 2003, James City County Fire Marshal Richard Miller issued a modification to Section 804.1.1 of the 2000 edition of the Statewide Fire Prevention Code to allow natural cut Christmas trees in individual apartments and condominium dwelling units without automatic sprinkler systems located in James City County. However, in common areas such as hallways, exit ways and stairwells, natural cut trees are not allowed.


Natural cut Christmas trees are allowed in churches, restaurants and bars, educational facilities, dormitories, mercantile facilities, motels, hotels, theaters, malls, boarding houses and other similar areas where groups of people assemble if the building is equipped with a automatic sprinkler system and the following conditions are met:


  • The natural tree must have the trunk cut off at least ½ inch above the original cut.
  • The tree must be placed in a support device containing a minimum two-day water supply.
  • The stem of the tree is covered with at least two inches of water.
  • The tree shall be removed from the building whenever the needles or leaves readily fall off when a branch is shaken or if the needles are brittle and break when bent between the thumb and index finger.
  • The tree must be checked daily for dryness.


Natural cut trees are still prohibited in all hospitals, adult daycare facilities, daycare facilities and nursing homes with or without automatic sprinkler systems.



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