Charles County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association

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Message from the State Fire Marshal Office - Important to Pass On
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By Coordinator/Public Information Officer William Smith
November 3, 2017

AERIAL LUMINARIES KNOWN AS "SKY LANTERNS" ARE PROHIBITED IN MARYLAND

PIKESVILLE, MD (November 2, 2017) The State Fire Marshal would like to remind Maryland residents and visitors that using aerial luminaries, commonly referred to as "Sky Lanterns", is prohibited throughout the State.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal regularly receives requests from the public concerning these devices, typically constructed with oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame, which are released into the atmosphere. A candle or fuel cell is ignited within the device causing the trapped air inside to become heated. The hot air allows the lantern to rise and float away with the upper air currents. Once airborne, they may travel significant distances away from the release site and return to earth, often before the flame is fully extinguished. This action can result in combustibles at the landing site to become engulfed in flames, potentially creating an uncontrolled fire involving a structure or vegetation.

The fire risk associated with these devices encourages fire safety officials to restrict their use in the best interest of public safety.
The Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) Code 29.06.01.08T specifically addresses "Sky Lanterns", prohibiting the use of the devices throughout the State of Maryland; where their use becomes a hazard.

Attached is a video received from a concerned citizen from Essex, Baltimore County, Maryland. The surveillance video captures a sky lantern floating into the yard, landing in the grass, and continuing to burn for approximately one and a half minutes. Luckily, the device did not land on the pool cover or any of the structures on the property. The citizens became aware of the event after waking the next morning and finding the burnt remnants, see photos attached. The video can be found at the link: https://youtu.be/JNmbG0kP4K4

The Maryland State Fire Prevention Commission updated the State of Maryland Fire Prevention Code on January 1, 2013. The updated State Fire Prevention Code is available for download at the OSFM website: http://mdsp.org/firemarshal. Access the document through the "Document Downloads? tab on the left side of the page.

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