Cumberland Times-News

February 17, 2013

Aerial ‘sky lantern’ luminaries prohibited in state of Maryland

From Staff Reports
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — The Office of the State Fire Marshal regularly receives requests from the public concerning the use of aerial luminaries commonly referred to as sky lanterns.  

These devices, typically constructed with oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame, are released into the atmosphere after a candle or fuel cell is ignited, causing the trapped air inside to become heated and allowing the lantern to rise upward and float away with the upper air currents. Once aloft, they may travel significant distances but often return to Earth before the flame is fully extinguished.

This action can result in combustibles at the landing site becoming engulfed with flames. As a direct result, the potential for uncontrolled fire to occur involving a structure or vegetation poses a serious threat to fire and life safety.

Maryland code specifically addresses the issue of sky lanterns. The code permits the prohibition of sky lanterns throughout the state where circumstances make their use a hazard.  

The probable fire risk associated with these devices is cause for fire safety officials to restrict their use in the best interest of public safety.

The Maryland State Fire Prevention Commission recently updated the State of Maryland Fire Prevention Code, which can be downloaded at http://mdsp.org/firemarshal.