Use of flying lanterns banned in Amherstburg



fire logoBy Ron Giofu


Town council has agreed with a recommendation from its fire chief to ban the use of flying lanterns within the community.

Fire chief Randy Sinasac, in his report to council, recommended that the use of flying lanterns not be permitted in Amherstburg.

Sinasac stated in a written report to council that “flying lanterns are much like miniature hot air balloons constructed of tissue paper with  a heat source such as wadded up cotton fabric soaked with a combustible material located on a wire mount at the base of the lantern. The heat source is ignited and the lantern is released and floats upward. Once released, there is no control as to where the lantern will travel or how far.”

However, Sinasac told council at the most recent meeting of council his department has no control on whether flying lanterns can be sold or not, saying that decision would fall to Industry Canada.

“We can only discourage retailers from trying to sell them but we can’t force them to get them off the shelves,” he said.


An incident in Kingsville, where a resident brought a lantern to the Kingsville Fire Department after it had landed near combustible materials, was also referenced by Sinasac in his written report.

“The lantern had travelled a significant distance from the spot it had been released,” said Sinasac. “The resident was concerned that the lantern could have potentially ignited combustible materials when it landed. Administration shares these concerns.”

Sinasac added that it is “not uncommon for multiple lanterns to be released at the same time for visual effect” and that the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office has published materials detailing the hazards flying lanterns pose.

“No changes have been made to the Ontario Fire Code or any other regulatory statutes that administration is aware of at this time,” Sinasac reported.

The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office has urged Health Canada to consider banning the sale of flying lanterns, Sinasac continued, “but concluded that the results of their study did not warrant a ban.”

Councillor Bob Pillon wondered how the bylaw would be policed. Sinasac said there are issues with enforcement “as is true with many of our bylaws,” noting that a person would have to be caught in the act of igniting one in order for the bylaw to be properly enforced. He said the idea is to discourage people from using the flying lanterns until Industry Canada bans the sale of them outright.

Councillor Carolyn Davies said an education program could be useful in order to demonstrate to the public the dangers flying lanterns pose.

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