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Christmas trees: safety and disposal

Posted at 8:19 PM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 22:19:47-05

You’ve trimmed the tree but is now the time to trim it down? Great Falls Fire Marshal Dirk Johnson said the choice to branch off from your favorite fir should be based on the needs of its needles.

“If the tree’s been watered and it’s moist and the needles are still green, it’s really up to them to take it down. There’s no time frame,” Johnson said.

But if your evergreen is never green, it’s probably time to toss. Johnson says there are three telltale signs of a faltering fir:

  • The needles will turn brown.
  • The tree will lose its needles.
  • The evergreen smell will fade.

“One of those three- it’s definitely time to take your Christmas tree outside,” Johnson said.

However, there are some tree disposal do’s and don’ts.

Do: dispose of the tree in the dumpster or drop it off for recycling.

Don’t: lean the tree against your home or garage, as doing so creates a fire hazard.

Also, keep in mind that decorative lights can set a dry tree alight. “You do have lights on them so there is an electrical source which causes heat and if they’re really dry there is that potential to start a fire. or if they’re dry and they’re next your fireplace or your gas stove or baseboard heat, it’s just easier for them to start a fire when they’re dry,” Johnson said.

Great Falls also offers a Christmas Tree Recycling Program so your evergreen and your environment can live on.

This year, the city of Great Falls, Republic Services, Great Falls Fish Wildlife & Parks, and Walleyes Unlimited are sponsoring the Christmas Tree Recycling Project in an effort to encourage more electric city residents to recycle their trees.

Since live Christmas trees are biodegradable, they can be reused to make compost or to improve fish habitats.

“If you recycle your tree it gets used, definitely, for good purposes,” Great Falls Fire Marshal Dirk Johnson said.

Johnson explained how those trees can be put to use for the good of the natural environment. “They mulch it and use it around the city or they help fish habitat,” Johnson said.

From now through January 10th you can drop off your tree at one of two recycling facilities in town. Simply load your tree into the recycle bin and the city will take care of it for you. Also keep in mind that trees must be free of decorations and flocking. Commercial trees are not accepted.

Recycling bins are located at:

Meadowlark Park - Fox Farm Rd and Park Garden Rd

Malmstrom Air Force Base - Balfour Beatty Community Center.