Fire services president concerned about use of Chinese lanterns

Clayton Hunt
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Should be provincewide regulations, Vince MacKenzie says

Vince MacKenzie, fire chief of Grand Falls-Windsor and president of Newfoundland and Labrador Fire Services, said he is opposed to the use of Chinese lanterns in the province.

According to MacKenzie, the use of these lanterns is a “new thing” in the province and their popularity for use in celebrations such as graduations has grown in the last several years.

A Chinese lantern is a paper globe with a lit candle inside. The heat from the candle causes the air inside the bag to become less dense, which causes the bag to rise.

The lanterns usually rise fairly high and fall to the ground when the candle is extinguished.

However, wind can play havoc with the lanterns and cause them to land while the candle is still burning.

Apparently, a case like this happened in Grand Falls-Windsor on the evening of July 31.

No damage was caused in the incident, as the family saw the lantern land in their backyard and managed to handle the situation with a water hose.

“I am adamantly opposed to the use of Chinese lanterns for any type of celebration in the province,” Mackenzie said.

“As far as I know there are no provincial regulations prohibiting the use of them right now, although I would consider forest fire regulations to be somewhat applicable, as fire is fire.

“When you launch a Chinese lantern you are allowing a fire to travel up in the air without knowing where it might land. It’s very likely that the candle will be out when the lantern does fall to the ground, but that’s not always the case.

“People should use common sense when using these items.”

A spokesperson for the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor said the town does not have any bylaws concerning the use of the lanterns.

A spokesperson for the Department of Fire and Emergency Services said the province does not regulate Chinese lanterns.

Municipalities, however, do have the legal authority to ban the use of the lanterns under a general fire ban.

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Organizations: Town of Grand Falls-Windsor, Department of Fire and Emergency

Geographic location: Grand Falls-Windsor

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