The Leader of Leeds City Council has warned residents not to make tributes to key workers using sky lanterns, which increase the risk of wildfires and put extra strain on emergency services.
Echoing a similar warning issued by the National Fire Chiefs Council last week in response to a campaign on social media, the council’s leader Councillor Judith Blake said:
“We’re all extremely proud and thankful for the amazing work being done by our key workers. However, I’d urge residents to continue showing their support in ways that are safe and not to light sky lanterns.
“Sky lanterns (which some residents may know as ‘Chinese lanterns’) are highly flammable and increase the risk of wildfires. Whilst our emergency services are under unprecedented pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s vitally important that we all do everything possible to help them focus on their response to this virus and not on managing unnecessary fires.
“I’d once again like to thank everyone who continues to work so hard to keep our city running, particularly frontline workers and volunteers.”
All emergency services are currently under increased pressure due to COVID-19. NFCC believes the suggestion that people should set off highly flammable lanterns – at a time when wildfires are likely to be on the increase due to the weather conditions – should be highly discouraged.
NFCC is urging the public to look for alternative ways to show their support to the NHS. Lanterns are a fire hazard; pose a risk to livestock, agriculture, thatched properties and hazardous material sites. Almost 90 local authorities across the UK have banned the use of lanterns.