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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: August 6, 2019 09:42 AM
From: Representative Dan L. Miller
To: All House members
Subject: Sky Lantern Fire Safety
Today in Pennsylvania, anyone who wishes to release a sky lantern in the Commonwealth is free to do so. While these free-floating lanterns may be beautiful to look at, the nature of these devices and the way in which they are used can constitute a danger to people and property. It is for that reason that I am proposing we follow the recommendation of the National Association of State Fire Marshals and adhere to the International Fire Code and ban the release of sky lanterns into Pennsylvania's airspace.
Sky lanterns, also known as sky candles, fire lanterns or Kongming lanterns, are devices that use a small open-flame object or other device to cause a paper or plastic balloon to inflate and rise. Imagine a hot-air balloon, but on a much smaller scale - and with no one at the controls. If all goes well, the sky lantern will remain aloft until the flame goes out, and then the devices will fall back to earth without causing any harm. If the lantern is tipped or bumps into something, however, the balloon itself can catch fire or the flame can ignite whatever it comes in contact with.
Unfortunately, these concerns are not just hypothetical. A sky lantern sparked a fire in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, that ended up burning 800 acres. In North Carolina, a cell phone tower was struck and ignited. A recycling plant caught fire in England after a sky lantern landed in it, with devastating financial consequences. And there are environmental concerns as well, stemming from the debris left behind when a "used" fire lantern returns to the ground, including reported incidents in which livestock died after eating that debris.
Because of these concerns, thirty states and many local communities have already addressed the threat posed by sky lanterns through regulatory or legislative action. Please join me in protecting Pennsylvania from the danger posed by the release of sky lanterns into our airspace.

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Introduced as HB1793