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Fire service slams campaign to release sky lanterns for NHS

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Picture: Hants Fire & Rescue Service Twitter
Picture: Hants Fire & Rescue Service Twitter

A CAMPAIGN to release sky lanterns in support of NHS staff battling coronavirus has been shot down in flames by the local fire service.

UK firm Night Sky Lanterns had asked the public to buy its £6 Union Jack-branded lanterns, encouraging their release on Sunday evenings. All money taken would go to the NHS, it said.

But the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has warned against such actions, tweeting: "We love the NHS, but we don't love dealing with fire caused by sky lanterns.

"Join us in clapping to show your appreciation - don't let your 'thank you' crash and burn."

The HFRS also shared criticism for the campaign from the National Fire Chiefs Council, which said the scheme was "misguided".

"All emergency services are currently under increased pressure due to Covid-19. NFCC believes the suggestion that people should set off highly flammable lanterns – at a time when wildfires are likely to be on the increase due to the weather conditions – should be highly discouraged," the council said in a statement.

"NFCC is urging the public to look for alternative ways to show their support to the NHS. Lanterns are a fire hazard; pose a risk to livestock, agriculture, thatched properties and hazardous material sites. Almost 90 local authorities across the UK have banned the use of lanterns."

NFCC chair Roy Wilsher added: "While I fully understand people wanting to show their support to the NHS, I would encourage people to find a different way to do this.

"NFCC does not advocate the use of sky lanterns and we do not believe they should be used under any circumstances.

"All emergency services are currently under unprecedented pressure due to Covid-19, and I am concerned this type of activity could not only put additional pressure on the fire service, but further strain on the NHS.

"If a sky lantern causes a fire, it could see firefighters spending valuable time dealing with what could be a complex and large-scale incident. Time which could be spent supporting vulnerable people in the community, as part of the fire services response to Covid-19."

Following similar criticism from other organisations nationwide, Night Sky Lanterns has since stopped its campaign and has refunded orders.

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