Firework Safety

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service would always recommend that people attend an organized fireworks display.

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service would always recommend that people attend an organized fireworks display.

However, we understand that some people will want to have their own private firework display, and to those people we would ask that they read through and follow the guidance below. If you do buy fireworks for your own use, you should always follow the RoSPA Firework Code (opens in a new window/tab).

Download the Sbarc Firework Code.

Useful information

  • Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable, and ensure it finishes before 11pm.
  • Only buy fireworks which carry the CE mark, keep them in a closed box and use them one at a time.
  • Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary.
  • Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back
  • Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
  • Never return to a firework once it has been lit
  • Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
  • Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
  • Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
  • Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.

In the UK it is permissible to sell fireworks to the general public (Categories 1, 2 and 3 only) during the four key selling periods:

  • On the first day of the Chinese New Year and the three days immediately preceding it
  • On the day of Diwali and the three days immediately preceding it
  • During the period beginning on the 15th October and ending on the 10th November
  • During the period beginning on the 26th December and ending on the 31st December

Anyone wishing to sell outside of these periods will have to apply for an all year sales licence via their Local Licencing Authority. In almost every case they will need to be the holder of a valid storage licence too.

Fireworks can only be sold to persons aged 18 years or older. Sparklers are classed as fireworks and the same laws apply.

It is illegal for under 18s to possess fireworks in a public place.

It is not a legal requirement to have any kind of licence or training to buy consumer fireworks.

There is no such thing as either a licence or training that entitles a member of the public to buy Category 4 (professional) fireworks. These are only available to bona fide professional fireworks companies with all year insurance and licenced storage.

Consumer fireworks must conform to British Standards (BS 7114), be classified as Category 2 (Garden) or Category 3 (display) fireworks and carry a CE mark.

There is a noise limit of 120db on all consumer fireworks.

Certain items are banned in the UK. These include bangers, air bombs and jumping jacks, regardless of whether these are CE marked and approved for sale in other EU countries.

Never buy fireworks from:

  • the back of a “white van"
  • the “bloke down the pub”
  • from unlicensed outlets such as car boot sales or market stalls
  • from anyone who knocks on your door

No matter how much of a bargain they look, they could be illegal imports which have not even had the most basic safety testing. 

You need to get into the mind-set that you are handling and storing explosives and not toys.

When storing fireworks at home the main things to ensure are:

  • The fireworks are kept away from children and animals
  • The fireworks are kept away from any sources of heat or ignition
  • The fireworks are kept dry

Sources of heat or ignition include heaters, naked flames and people smoking.

Never smoke while handling fireworks!

It is essential that your fireworks are kept dry. Beware of storing fireworks outside in sheds which can get damp and avoid anywhere with significant changes of temperatures including greenhouses, conservatories and lofts which could result in condensation. If you must keep your fireworks in the shed, wrap them up tightly in well-sealed bin liners or plastic bags.

Some more useful advice:

  • Store fireworks in their original packaging (mail order fireworks will be supplied in tough cardboard cartons)
  • Do not store fireworks with any other flammable materials including petrol, oil or paint
  • If there is a possibility of children or animals having access to the fireworks, keep them stored in a lockable container or cabinet

If you are going to be in charge of fireworks at home this year, please take a few minutes to read through the following guidelines. Your planning and your actions could help prevent an injury.

  • Pets hate bangs and flashes and get very frightened on fireworks night. So keep all your pets indoors and close all the curtains to make things calmer. Remember it’s not just your own fireworks that cause distress, so you may need to have your pets indoors on several nights when other displays are taking place.
  • Think ahead and be prepared Before you start, make sure you’ll be giving yourself enough room in a safe place to get to and from your box of fireworks while the display’s going on. Have a full bucket of water handy for any emergency. If you have the chance to get together with some other families, try to go to the home with the biggest garden and the safest surroundings.
  • Loose clothing (like track suits) can very easily catch alight and should never be worn near any fire. Long dangly scarves can be risky too. If anyone’s clothing does catch fire, follow the rule…STOP don’t run DROP to the ground ROLLOVER to put out the flame
  • You (or another adult that you choose) must be the only person letting off fireworks. Don’t allow anyone else – especially children – to do so while your display is going on. Let the fireworks off one at a time (not lots at once) and don’t rush. Light the tip of each firework at arm’s length, using a safety firework lighter or fuse wick.
  • Read the instructions on each one carefully (by torchlight, never with any sort of naked flame) and follow them properly. Rockets, for instance, should be launched from a rocket launcher, not from a bottle.
  • Sparklers need careful handling – light them one at a time at arm’s length; don’t give one to any child under 5; make sure that anyone holding a sparkler wears gloves; and put each spent one into a bucket of water as soon as it’s gone out.
  • Never put a firework in a pocket, it is very dangerous.
  • Throwing a firework is dangerous and illegal: it’s a criminal offence to do so in a street or other public place, with a maximum penalty of a £5000 fine.
  • Drinking alcohol presents an added danger when there are fireworks and bonfires around. So keep strict control of your guests’ drinking during the display. You could consider not having any alcoholic drink available until after your fireworks have been let off.
  • Keep children well away from fireworks, and never let a child handle or light one. ​

Anyone introducing a firework on to the European market should carry out structured testing to determine a suitable and lawful method for the end user to dispose of damaged or partially fired fireworks. They should also provide suitable instructions for the disposal of the firework, this should include advice on what to do if the firework is defective or does not work properly, or at all. 

If you have a defective firework you should seek advice on the safe disposal of the damaged firework(s) in the product safety information supplied with the fireworks or directly from the supplier, manufacturer or importer.​

Choosing the right fireworks

There are different types of fireworks that the public can purchase and use.  These fireworks may have different minimum safety distances and have specific instructions that should be adhered to in order to ensure that you and your spectators are kept safe.

Always buy from a reputable retailer and follow individual firework instructions.

Category F1 fireworks are the least powerful type of fireworks you can purchase. The usual minimum spectator distance listed is at least 1 metre, but please follow the instructions carefully to ensure the minimum distances are adhered to and other safety recommendations are followed.

Category F2 fireworks require a minimum spectator distance of at least 8 metres, some may also require a minimum of 15 metres, so it is vital to review the safety instructions prior to use to ensure you have the correct space available.

Category F3 fireworks are the most powerful fireworks that members of public can purchase and can pose the most danger if safety guidelines are not adhered to. Many fireworks will have a minimum safety distance of 25 metres.

Never use ‘industrial’ grade fireworks

Category F4 fireworks, often referred to as “industrial fireworks” are for professional-only use. F4 fireworks are not for sale to the public under any circumstances. These fireworks are extremely dangerous and are very unlike retail fireworks in the way they are operated. If you know of any of these prohibited fireworks in public hands, be sure to contact us.

Generally speaking, fireworks should be stored in their original packaging in a dry place away from sources of heat or ignition. Store fireworks away from children. Be sure to read the specific instructions and store as per the instructions listed.

Is your garden big enough?

Firework safety distances must always be adhered. Read the instructions and follow them. There must be no compromise on distance and stated distance must be treated as a minimum.

Always remember, if your clothing catches fire - STOP, DROP and ROLL.

The following are very simple Do’s and Do Not’s to ensure the safest possible bonfire.