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Giving Your own Firework Display: How to Run and Fire it Safely 

 

This guidance covers the type of display put on by organisations like sports clubs and school parent/teacher associations, by parish councils and by public houses typically attracting some 100 customers/spectators. Common or garden displays for family, friends or neighbours are generally covered by box instructions. Also does not cover displays using Category 4 fireworks. With full documentation of the legal requirements.

Below are some tips and guidance to help you.

Before the event:

  • Think about who will operate the display. There is no reason why you should not light a display yourselves provided it only contains fireworks in categories 1, 2 and 3. but remember, category 4 fireworks may only be used by professional firework display operators. In untrained hands they can be lethal.
  • Consider whether the site is suitable and large enough for your display, including a bonfire if you are having one. Is there space for the fireworks to land well away from spectators? Remember to check in daylight for overhead power lines and other obstructions. What is the direction of the prevailing wind? What would happen if it changed?
  • Think about what you would do if things go wrong. Make sure there is someone who will be responsible for calling the emergency services.
  • Make sure you obtain the fireworks from a reputable supplier.
  • If the display is to be provided by a professional firework display operator make sure that you are clear on who does what especially in the event of an emergency.
  • Ensure you have a suitable place to store the fireworks. Your firework supplier or local authority should be able to advise.
  • If you plan on selling alcohol the bar should be well away from the display site.

On the day of the event:

  • Recheck the site, weather conditions and wind direction.
  • Don't let anyone into the zone where the fireworks will fall – or let anyone other than the display operator or firing team into the firing zone or the safety zone around it.
  • Discourage spectators from bringing drink onto the site.
  • Don't let spectators bring their own fireworks onto the site.
  • If you will also have a bonfire at the display then you should:
    o Check the structure is sound and does not have small children or animals inside it before lighting it
    o Not use petrol or paraffin to light the fire
    o Have only one person responsible for lighting the fire. That person, and any helpers, should wear suitable clothing eg a substantial outer garment made of wool or other low-flammable material.
    o Make sure that the person lighting the fire and any helpers know what to do in the event of a burn injury or clothing catching fire
  • Never attempt to relight fireworks. Keep well clear of fireworks that have failed to go off.

The morning after:

  • Carefully check and clear the site. Dispose of fireworks safely. They should never be burnt in a confined space (eg a boiler)

Insurance

Although it is not required by health and safety law, if you are holding a public firework display, it’s a good idea to have public liability insurance. Bear in mind that not all companies are used to dealing with this type of event, and as with any other type of insurance, it’s worth shopping around: look for a company that’s used to insuring firework and other public events – you are likely to get much better deal and avoid unsuitable terms and conditions. If you have difficulty with the standard insurance terms, TALK to your insurer and find a way forward; they can be very helpful.

The following guidance

The HSE guidance Giving your own firework display (HS (G) 124 provides further detail and can be downloaded and printed off free via: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg124.htm