Our primary business at Wrightstyle is the design and supply of advanced glazing systems to protect against fire.
We therefore understand the dynamics of fire and how fires can start and spread.
It’s an understanding that’s more important now than ever, with Covid-19 putting greater strain on all our emergency services.
To put that into content, in the year to December 2019, fire and rescue services attended 555,759 incidents.
Of those incidents, 157,156, were fires. That’s over 430 fires a day.
Put another way, fire last year killed 237 people.
You might think that everyone knows about the dangers of fire, and the risk it poses.
We were therefore saddened and appalled when a London manufacturer of sky lanterns had the bright idea of selling them to raise money for the NHS.
Their commercial idea was to ask people to set them off on a Sunday evening to support medical staff during the Covid-19 epidemic.
Sky lanterns are paper lanterns with a candle underneath that take to the skies as miniature hot-air balloons.
They were used as military signals in ancient China, and are sometimes still called Kongming lanterns after the 3rd century Chinese general who first created them.
The trouble of course is that they are also flying incendiaries. They have the capacity to set fire to standing crops, hay and straw or thatched houses.
Every year in the UK, some 200,000 sky lanterns are sold. While legal, many councils have banned them from being released on their land.
Many German states have banned their use. Earlier this year, sky lanterns were responsible for a fire that killed more than 30 animals in a local zoo.
Some 30 US states have also made them illegal, as have, among others, Australia, Spain and Brazil.
In response to the London company’s plan, the National Fire Chiefs Council called it misguided. They said that they did not believe such lanterns should be used under any circumstances.
The RSPCA said that “sky lanterns can cause injury and suffering to animals and have a devastating impact on the environment.”
The company concerned seems to have stepped back from its plan to fill our night sky with floating fire hazards.
We would also like to add our voice to the many others now calling for a complete ban on sky lanterns.
Wrightstyle’s systems are an integral part of a building’s ability to contain the spread of fire and therefore protect life and property.
We therefore understand, maybe better than others, the tragic consequences of an uncontrolled fire.
There are better ways to show support for our NHS staff, care workers and essential workers.
Setting off sky lanterns isn’t one of them, ever.