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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Staffordshire urges grounding of sky lanterns

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service is urging residents and event organisers not to set off airborne lanterns. 


"We appreciate the lanterns look pretty and may be symbolic to some people. However, they are uncontrollable. No one can predict where they float to and land or what they might ignite on their journey.”  


Glynn Luznyj, Head of Risk Reduction.

The call follows a recent £multi-million blaze in the West Midlands believed to have been ignited by a floating lantern landing at a plastics recycling plant. 

The Staffordshire service is concerned as grassland and vegetation across the county is extremely dry due to the current hot weather and a fire could spread rapidly. 

Glynn Luznyj, Head of Risk Reduction, said: “In spite of the huge fire at Smethwick only two weeks ago, it appears people are still lighting and setting off sky lanterns. This is of great concern as we are currently experiencing hot summer weather and many outdoor activities and events.” 

The Smethwick fire caused millions of pounds worth of damage and was fought by up to 200 firefighters, including seven crews and appliances from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue. Around a dozen firefighters suffered minor injuries or needed treatment for the effects of heat from the fire. 

"We are urging people to be sensible and not set off sky lanterns. We appreciate the lanterns look pretty and may be symbolic to some people. However, they are uncontrollable. No one can predict where they float to and land or what they might ignite on their journey,” added Glynn. 

“With grassland and vegetation across the county so dry, a fire could take hold and spread very rapidly and have devastating effects on the environment, as well as put the lives of firefighters, residents, farm stock and wildlife at risk.”

West Midlands Fire Service is calling for an urgent review of legislation around the use of airborne ‘fire’ lanterns. The Service is also urging event organisers and the public to discourage the use of such lanterns due to their potential fire risk. 

CCTV surveillance footage released by West Midlands Fire Service show the moment an object, believed to be a sky lantern, floated into the Jayplas site in Dartmouth Road, Smethwick late on Sunday, June 30. 

In response, superstore Poundland has withdrawn all airborne lanterns from sale, a move welcomed by Fire and Rescue Services.