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Forums» Fire Codes» Sky Lanterns

4 post(s) First 1 Last
Sky Lanterns
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Sky Lanterns By  Kenneth Dubuc

Posts: 2

11/9/2011 4:03:36 PM

Does anyone out there have any experience dealing with requests for release of sky lanterns?  Sky lanterns are the paper lanterns that are launched using hot air from a fuel source that is attached to the base of the paper lantern.

A quick google search showed about 1000 sites selling these items.

The lanterns can float on the breeze for up to 20 minutes and travel up to a mile or more before they burn out.  Evidently they are becoming popular at weddings, etc.

My assumption is that IFC 308.1.2 would apply.

Any other ideas?


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   Edited By Kenneth Dubuc at 11/9/2011 4:04:17 PM.

Sky Lanterns By  Thomas Maloney

Posts: 1

11/9/2011 7:28:59 PM

We had a request in September (2011) and denied the request based on IFC Section 308 but also explained that they have no control of the device. You Tube has some clips on Sky Lanterns. We did not have success getting help from the people that sell these things either (no shock). We wanted to conduct tests to see the behavior of the flame.

I attached what we got from Virginia in regards to this issue.

Tom Maloney, Fire Marshal

Marysville Fire District (WA)




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Sky Lanterns By  Uncle Bob

Posts: 174

11/10/2011 8:54:19 AM

Kenneth & Thomas,

Welcome to the forum.

You have opened my eyes to an area that I have tried to stay out of.  I have always left the Fire Codes to the Fire Marshal's Office; and I believe that is as it should be.  However, I should have at least read through the fire code book; to better understand your responsibilities.

I had always assumed (shame on me) that the ICC fire codes; as part of the building codes; only pertained to new building construction, maintanence of existing buildings, and their surrounding areas within the property lines.  I had no idea that they also had authority over virtually every space on earth within their jurisdiction.

This was brought to my attention, when I looked at the references you posted.  Glancing over the pages; I noticed in the 2009 IFC, section 310.  What really amazed me was that Municipalities throughout the United States; who have adopted the ICC Fire Code; expend a lot of time, money and publicity; writting laws that prohibit and restrict smoking in various places.  It seems to me that all they had to do was enforce section 310; which has been part of the IFC since 2000; without change.

I'll only post one section of 310 to make my point; and hope that it will encourage others; who, like myself have totally ignored the IFC; to read it:

2000, 2003, & 2009 IFC, 310.8  Hazardous environmental conditions.  When the fire code official determines that hazardous envioronmental conditions necessitate controlled use of smoking materials, the ignition or use of such materials in mountainous, brush-covered or forest-covered areas or their designated areas; is prohibited except in approved designated smoking areas.

Well, blow my dress up; that pretty well covers just about anywhere you might go out side the built environment.

Thank you for lighting a fire under this old man's gray matter,

Uncle Bob   

Retired Texas Combination Inspector. Location Oklahoma.

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   Edited By Uncle Bob at 11/10/2011 8:59:22 AM.

Sky Lanterns By  Kenneth Dubuc

Posts: 2

11/10/2011 1:28:17 PM

Thanks for the responses.

This was a tough one.  A group that wanted to help grieving families honor children who had passed away wanted to release the lanterns from a City facility (a pier in the harbor).

I did deny the request, based upon the IFC, but also based on some limits I found from the UK, which restrict the release of these lanterns near roads or airports.  The specific spot this group wanted to use is not only near an airport, but also adjacent to our hospital life flight landing pad.  It was also interesting to see that these lanterns are mistaken for marine distress flares, and our immediate proximity to a very busy international shipping lane and Coast Guard base was another factor.

This was one of those times when my immediate gut reaction was to say no, but I held off.  Thanks to some reearch, (and this forum!), when I got back to the citizen, even though she did not like the answer, she understood it and was OK with it.  Gotta love this job.


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