Published 12 April 2024

NFCC warns of sky lantern event fire risk

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) is urging organisers of sky lantern festivals to cancel the events amid fears over fire safety.  

The events, which the UK Lantern Festival claim are due to take place in London and Birmingham in May and June, say hundreds of lanterns will be released into the night sky, followed by fireworks.  

NFCC has long called for a ban on sky lanterns as they pose a real risk of fire. The release of naked flame into the air cannot be controlled and countries including Australia and Germany already have national bans in place.  

Organisers of the events claim their “custom lanterns are designed with the utmost safety in mind”. However, NFCC advises that none of these products are safe to use.  

NFCC Chair, Mark Hardingham, said: 

“Sky lanterns have been proven to start wildfires and property fires, kill or injure livestock, as well as polluting our natural environment. 

“NFCC does not believe any such lanterns should be used under any circumstances. Our advice is simple – don’t use them.” 

West Midlands Fire Service has also raised concerns and asked the organisers to reconsider. 

A fire at a recycling plant in the West Midlands in 2013 started by a lantern caused one of the region’s biggest ever fires and required 39 fire appliances and over 200 firefighters to tackle it over a number of days. 

The event website also warns people purchasing lanterns for use outside the event venue is prohibited and could leave people facing prosecution by local fire authorities. This is incorrect. Fire and rescue services cannot prosecute for purchasing a sky lantern.  

Media reports have highlighted the events are a possible scam, and trading standards have launched an investigation, claims which Lantern Festival UK disputes.  

For further information, please contact