Scottish public urged not to light 'fire risk' sky lanterns

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A campaign encouraging the public to light sky lanterns in a show of solidarity for NHS workers could place “unnecessary pressure” on the emergency services, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has warned. 

The campaign, which calls for the public to release lanterns from gardens and driveways in support for the NHS, follows the popular #ClapForOurCarers social media campaign.

It comes days after the SFRS stressed that Scotland’s countryside is currently “vulnerable” to wildfire, and as the emergency services continue to support partners and protect the public amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

Alasdair Perry, SFRS Deputy Assistant Chief Officer, said: “We fully appreciate that people want to show their support for the NHS, however we must discourage the lighting of sky lanterns.

“These lanterns may look striking when lit, but when released they pose a significant threat of fire and can have devastating consequences – for rural environments, property and wildlife.

“This is clearly a challenging time for the emergency services due to COVID-19, and while the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service maintains a high resilience across Scotland, we would seek to avoid any unnecessary demand on our service so we can target our resources most effectively in supporting our partners and meeting the needs of Scotland’s communities.

“Traditionally, this is a period when we see a high volume of large wildfires in Scotland, due to a build-up of dead vegetation in our countryside, and rising temperatures. We can’t risk adding a potential ignition to that mix.

“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.

“Our message is clear: please do not release lit sky lanterns, and risk potentially placing unnecessary pressure on the emergency services.”

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