Fire Departments Say Holiday Red Wreath Program Was A Success

Jan 10, 2018

A wreath with red bulbs hangs outside DeKalb Fire Station #1
Credit Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

The lights stayed red on wreaths at many Illinois fire departments this holiday season.  This was good news.

There were plenty of fires across Illinois from around Thanksgiving to New Year’s but, for many fire departments, there was a bright spot: the Red Wreath Program.  Dixon Fire Chief Tim Shipman said his department has been doing the community-awareness drive for the past 24 years.

“Anything that we can get out there that the public can see is a plus for us,” he said. “It might spark them to check a smoke detector or just be a little more careful with drop cords, extension cords and those types of things.”

In the program, red bulbs in wreaths hung at firehouses are replaced with white ones in the event of a holiday-related fire. Dixon didn’t change any bulbs this year.

Fire departments in DeKalb, Belvidere, and Peru said the same was true for them.  

Shipman says he thinks the campaign is useful -- and not just for the season.

“It’s our intent to bring, obviously, you know, fire safety, and awareness to it, around the holidays," he said, "but also year-round.”

Holiday-related fires could be caused by faulty lights or cords, candles or dry Christmas trees.  The Peru fire chief remembers one caused by a lit elf-on-the-shelf.

The Red Wreath program was first used by the Naperville Fire Department in 1954.  The idea spread and, in 1980, it was adopted and recommended to all departments by the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association.