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Only licensed professionals can operate sky lanterns in Tennessee

NASHVILLE – Sky lanterns are frequently seen lighting up the night skies during outdoor music festivals. As Tennessee’s summer festival season gets underway, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds Tennesseans that sky lanterns — which are unmanned airborne paper lanterns fueled by flame — can only be operated in the Volunteer State by licensed fireworks professionals.

State law defines sky lanterns as special fireworks that can only be purchased and used by individuals with a professional license (such as a certified flame effect operator, certified outdoor display operator or certified proximate pyrotechnic operator). They are also known as known as Chinese lanterns or wish lanterns.

While the lanterns can add aesthetic value, they can cause numerous hazards when they fall from the sky, including the ignition of combustible materials (grass, trees, rooftops, or other materials) as well as a possible livestock hazard when animals consume the remains of the lanterns. Concerns have escalated elsewhere in recent years after lanterns were blamed for burning homes and properties. In Alaska, state officials recently banned sky lanterns.

“The general public cannot purchase or use sky lanterns,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “If sky lanterns are found in the possession of someone who does not have a professional license issued by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, sky lanterns can be confiscated and later destroyed.”

This time of year also poses an additional hazard from sky lanterns because many areas of Tennessee might be experiencing drier conditions that may intensify the risk of damage.

To ensure the safety of Tennesseans, the State Fire Marshal’s Office advises citizens to enjoy fireworks by attending public displays conducted by trained professionals.

Published July 13, 2017

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