My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

State Fire MarshalThe holiday season carries with it hectic schedules and endless to-do lists, but it’s a time I look forward to each year. I relish the time I get to spend with family and friends, and I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on the year’s joyful blessings.

As you prepare for the season and bring out your annual decorations, many of you will put up a family Christmas tree. These trees, which I hope are "Fresh from Florida", are commonly the cornerstone of a family’s holiday display.

What many of you may not know is that you should also take a few simple safety steps to help make sure you, your family, and your home make it safely through the holiday season. Fresh Christmas trees offer a breath of a fresh air, scents of the season, and the addition of lights and ornaments offers a time for family bonding, but they can also present a fire hazard if not properly cared for.

Keep these simple tips in mind:

  • Pick a tree with green needles that do not fall off when touched.
  • Pick a tree that is appropriately sized for your home. Make sure that your selected location is at least three feet away from fireplaces, radiators, candles, and any other item that can easily cause a fire.
  • Remember to water your tree! Dry trees burn more easily than well-watered ones. Check your tree stand daily to ensure your tree stays hydrated.

Christmas tree fires do not happen often, but they are more likely to cause serious fires when they do occur. Between 2009-2013, fire departments across the country responded to an average of 210 fires per year that were started by Christmas trees. While that number may not seem extraordinarily high, these fires represent an average of seven deaths, 19 injuries and $17.5 million in direct property damage per year.

To remind Floridians to be cautious and to show firsthand what can happen if the unthinkable occurs, our office is hosting fire safety demonstrations across Florida. We’re partnering with local fire departments and media outlets to show Floridians just how fast a small fire can consume the entire Christmas tree, surrounding furniture, and an entire room. Keep an eye out on your local news or watch this short news story from our most recent demonstration held in Pensacola.

It is my hope that your family sails smoothly through the holiday season without the devastating consequences of a fire. The holidays are a time for loved ones to gather and enjoy the season together. We wish you a very Merry Florida Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a joyous new year.


Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Floridians spend more as economy improves

WZVN-ABC7: Safety concerns of Christmas 2015's hottest gift

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Southwest Florida commercial real estate market shows signs of recovery

Jacksonville Business Journal: Florida most vulnerable state for identity theft, fraud

Orlando Business Journal: Florida’s Consumer Sentiment Index up to 91.5 in November

Women's Wear Daily: Data analysis shows where consumer dollars go

Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Florida

Dr. Thomas O'Neal is the Vice President for Research and Commercialization at UCFFlorida has a world class tourism and hospitality industry, one that is the envy of the hospitality and leisure world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2015 almost 14 percent of Florida’s non-farm workers are employed in the leisure and hospitality sector. While that is impressive, that also means that 86 percent work in other industries.

Innovation and entrepreneurship are what has made this country great and something that Florida continues to champion and improve. Evidence of this can be found in recent national rankings. For the fourth year in a row, Chief Executive Magazine named Florida the second best state in the nation for business in the U.S., and The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council ranked Florida among the nation's top five most entrepreneur-friendly states.

Read more from Dr. O'Neal in the latest edition of Florida's Bottom Line, plus many more Florida economic articles of interest.

Florida Economic Briefs

National unemployment rate unchanged in November
In November, the unemployment rate held at 5.0 percent, unchanged from the previous month and down 0.8 percentage points from last year (5.8 percent). Florida’s unemployment rate for November will be released on December 18th.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Florida’s economy predicted to outpace the nation and peer states
Florida’s economy is expected to grow 2.5 percent over the next six months, according to the state’s latest leading index released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Florida is forecast to grow faster than the nation and its peer states, California, New York, Illinois, and Texas, during this time.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia