National Campaign for Firework Safety
The Firework Code,  and bonfire night safety

Buy Fireworks marked BS-7114
Keep Fireworks in a closed box
Follow the instructions on each firework
Light all fireworks at arms length
Stand well back
Never go back to a lit firework
Never put fireworks in your pocket
Never throw fireworks
Keep Pets indoors

Never give sparklers to a child under 5
Sparklers, like other fireworks, must be used with care. They can get 6 times as hot as a pan of cooking oil and sparkler injuries have been on the increase. It makes sense to keep sparklers in safe hands.  Store sparklers and other fireworks in a closed box in a cool, dry place.  Always light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves.  Never hold a baby or child if you have a sparkler in your hand.  Plunge finished sparklers hot end down into a bucket of water as soon as they have burnt out. They can stay hot for a long time.  Don't take sparklers to public displays. It will be too crowded to use them safely. 

Children & Sparklers
Never give sparklers to the under 5s - they will not understand how to use them safely.

  • Always supervise children using sparklers.
  • Give children gloves to wear when holding sparklers.
  • Avoid dressing children in loose or flowing clothes - they may catch light.
  • Show children how to hold sparklers - away from their body and at arm's length.
  • Teach children not to wave sparklers near anyone else or run while holding them.
In an Emergency
  • Cool the burn or scald with cold water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Cut around material sticking to the skin - don't pull it off.
  • Don't touch the burn or burst any blisters.
  • Cover the burn with clean, non-fluffy material - cling film is ideal - to prevent infection.
  • If clothing catches fire, get the person to stop, drop to the floor and roll them in heavy material like a curtain.
  • Get advice from your doctor or accident and emergency department at your local hospital.
  • If you are having a bonfire, make sure that the fire is away from fences, garden, sheds, and properties.
  • Never let your children near the fire and try to cordon off the area.
  • Never light the fire using flammable liquids such as petrol and paraffin.
  • Consider the wind direction and other properties nearby such as thatched roofs etc.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy.
  • Never leave a bonfire unattended.
  • Make sure there are no aerosols that may explode in the fire.
  • Make sure the fire is extinguished before going back indoors.
  • Try to go to an organised display in your area.
  • Have a safe and happy night.

Last year over 1362 people required hospital treatment from accidents involving fireworks.
At family back-garden displays, sparklers cause more injuries than air-bombs, bangers, rockets and roman candles combined.
Half of all firework accidents happen to children under the age of 16.
More than 60 under 5s went to hospital in 1997 following a firework accident.
Three sparklers burning together generate the same heat as a blow-torch.
Hands and eyes are most at risk in firework accidents.
There is a British Safety Standard for fireworks: BS 7114.
Most firework accidents are caused at family back-garden displays closely followed by incidents in the street.
Throwing a firework in a street or public place is a criminal offence, with a maximum fine of 5000.
Fireworks are explosives, but they are also, in the main, consumer products. Firework law can be broken down into two main areas - that enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (or their agents), and that enforced by the Department of Trade and Industry (and local authority trading standards departments.)
The basis of the majority of UK law relating to fireworks is the 1875 Explosive Act and subsidiary legislation. The Act, due for overhaul by HSE, encompasses all aspects of manufacture and storage, including details of construction and Quantity/Distance relationships for explosives buildings. Many sections of the Act have been repealed by regulations made under HSWA. If in doubt please check with BPA or EIG, or directly to the Explosives Inspectorate (all contact details are at the end of the booklet).
The basis of consumer law in the UK is the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (CPA). In essence the Act says that items on sale to the general public must be safe for use by the general public, and must be safe in use without any form of training. The General Product Safety Regulations 1994 (GPSR), the result of a European Directive, covers similar scope. Due to limitations in the CPA, training cannot be a means of proving competence for potential purchasers of prohibited fireworks under the 1997 Firework (Safety) Regulations.

The British Standard for Fireworks

The British Standard BS 7114;1989 , although not law, is "called up" in the Firework (safety) Regulations 1997. All fireworks supplied to the general public must comply with the requirements in the Standard as well as additional requirements in the 1997 Regulation. The British Standard, and the types of fireworks it includes, is described in more detail in a later section.
Fireworks available to the general public
The range of fireworks available to the general public is now restricted to those types specified in the 1997 Firework (Safety) Regulations.

The 1997 Firework (Safety) Regulations
The DTI prepared a set of emergency regulations in 1996 which were made into permanent law in 1997.
These regulations prohibit the sale to the general public of the following fireworks
1. Shells and shells in mortar
2. Aerial maroons and aerial maroons in mortar
3. Fireworks of erratic flight
4. "Mini" rockets (which have a well defined minimum size - minimum 300mm length, and 12mm diameter)
5. Bangers and batteries containing bangers
6. Combinations including bangers (except for wheels)
7. Any other firework which is not specified in Schedule 3 of the regulations
Furthermore it modifies and extends the British Standard in respect of the maximum dimensions or weights of certain fireworks (schedule 2 of the regulations) .


The Regulations also require sparkler packets to be labelled with the text

  • "Warning: not to be given to children under 5 years of age"
Other restrictions
The regulations state that:
no person shall supply any firework or any assembly to any person apparently under the age of eighteen years.
The Regulations also describe those persons permitted to purchase the prohibited items including:-
(a) any person who is in business as a professional organiser or professional operator of firework displays;
(b) any person, being a person whose trade or business (or part of whose trade or business) is the supply of fireworks or assemblies, for the purpose of supplying them in accordance with the provisions of these Regulations;
(c) any local authority for the purposes of a firework display put on by that authority or for use by that authority at a national public celebration or a national commemorative event;
(d) any person for use, in the course of a trade or business of his, for special effects purposes in the theatre, on film or on television;

Clarification of which fireworks are permitted to be sold has been provided by DTI and they have stated that "cakes", mines and Roman candles containing flash units (i.e. bangs) are not prohibited from sale.

The European Standard
The European Standard for Fireworks, due for completion, approaches standards for fireworks in a different way. Instead of one standard divided into 3 parts, the European standard will have a separate standard for each permitted type.
Broadly the European Standard follows the British Standard model. There will be 4 categories, however the test and safety distances will be altered.
There will be many more types of fireworks with a Standard - although we wait to see how this will be accommodated in UK law.
Further details of the European Standard will be available in the next revision of this guide.

Professional vs Consumer displays

Many displays, especially around November 5th, are fired by amateurs using fireworks conforming to the requirements of the 1997 Firework (Safety) Regulations. Some of these shows can be quite extensive and may last for periods up to 60 minutes. The events are usually well established, community, school or club events where a committee has been formed to manage the event and to set-up and fire the display. These organisations usually (but not exclusively) purchase fireworks in the form of "self-fire" kits direct from major suppliers.
These displays are good fun, and are safe provided that:-
A) thought has been given at the planning stage of the display - including consideration of what to do in adverse conditions etc
B) the site is suitable for the type and scale of event planned
C) only British Standard fireworks are used
D) that the firework operators are completely familiar with their role in the display, the types of fireworks they will be firing, firing technique etc
Even in the absence of items prohibited in 1997, these displays can still provide spectacular entertainment for the audience.
Firework displays fired by professionals are usual where:-
A) the site puts extra restrictions on the fireworks that can be used
B) the display is to be fired in a very much reduced time (maybe as short as 30 seconds)
C) the budget permits or the display is very large
Firework professionals are "at work" and thus subject to all the regulations under HSWA. This means that they will usually carry out some form of site inspection with the client, carry out a risk assessment and determine the types of fireworks suitable for the display, and rig and fire the display entirely - leaving the organiser of the event to concentrate on other matters.
Professional firers have access to a much wider range of types and sizes of fireworks than the amateur - and consequently rarely adhere to the distance guidelines of the British Standard. Often this will mean professional displays require MORE room than an amateur display - but there are circumstances where by careful choice of fireworks a display in a very restricted area can be safe and spectacular.

These matters, and others, will need to be discussed with the firework company prior to the event.

We recommend that you employ one of the members of the BPA or EIG to arrange and fire your firework display.

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