I take this time out of our regularly scheduled maritime rants to share one of my own… Christmas Tree Fires. As some of you know my father was a New York City fireman and, from Vietnam thru the War Years in The Bronx, he devoted his life to saving others. It evently took his.
Growing up we had the kind of Christmas’ kids dream of. Holiday tunes played exclusively on the radio all of December, we visited Macy’s & FAO Schwartz every year and (despite our perpetual lack of monetary wealth) the presents were alwyas stacked 3 high. But the one thing missing from a Konrad Christmas was the smell of pine. This is because christmas trees are dangerous.
One year after an “Anti Fake Tree” campaign organized by my fellow siblings, my dad held firm untill January then"borrowed" a neighbor’s discarded tree… brought it down to the basketball court and tossed a match on it. No gasoline, no lighterfluid, just a single match. The resulting pyrotechnics show is, to this day, burned in my memory.

For those who’s father’s were not professionals in the art of fire, I’d like to share the following video. On the right is a newly purchased tree in the begining of December, on the left is a nearly identical tree just after Christmas.

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<h4>So what does this have to do with mariners??</h4>
I’ve sailed enough years to hear the following sentence a few dozen times “Every year I miss christmas but my wife never lets me miss taking down the F$#%'n tree”.
Well here it is… <strong>if you haven’t taken down “the F$#%'n tree” yet do it this weekend!</strong> If your at sea call the neighborhood kid and offer him $50. It’s really that important!

Thanks John! Dad comes through again…and yes guys and girls…it really is that important!

That video brings back so many fond memories of post x-mas beach bonfires. Everyone brings their trees down, sits in around the fire, and watches the death of a symbol.

I can’t believe how fast they go up…
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John, when I saw your article on the Halligan Tool, I knew you must have a strong connection to the fire service.

I became a volunteer fire fighter after graduation from the Maritime Academy of my choice. Fast forward almost 9 years, I am no longer shipping, but working as an independent fire investigator. I will have to agree with you, live christmas trees can be dangerous if not used with proper care. Why do you think most fire/life safety codes bar them from commercial buildings?

It worries me how we see trees for sale earlier every year, which means they have been out of the ground longer by the time dec 24th rolls around.

Good point! Interesting that you changed professions but it seems that incident review and fire safety are two areas every mate is pretty well versed in.
I know of another mariner who has changed careers and now investigates Dust Explosions. He also has a blog which is a leading resource on the topic:
Good Stuff!

Big guy,
Thanks for that video! I didn’t realize how much smoke they produce in a closed space. Good stuff.