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Fireworks

Frequently Asked Questions

The following information provides details to questions frequently asked about Fireworks. Click on a question below, or scroll down to the information you require:

 
 

Can you stop people letting fireworks off late at night?

From 7 August 2004, Regulation 7 of the Fireworks Regulations 2004 came into effect, which means that it is now a criminal offence to use 'adult fireworks' during the night hours of 11pm to 7am, except on a 'permitted firework night', which are:

Enforcement of Regulation 7 is the responsibility of the local police.

Can shops sell fireworks all year round?

From 1 January 2005, suppliers of 'adult fireworks' will require a licence to sell fireworks unless sales are only taking place:

Any applications for licenses should be made to the Trading Standards Office responsible for the area in which the applicant wishes to sell the fireworks. There will be a fee to pay (not exceeding £500) and the licence may be refused or revoked at any time.

Until 1 January 2005, the Fireworks Industry will continue to operate to a voluntary Code of Practice, which restricts sale of fireworks to the Public to three weeks leading up to November 5th and a few days after, and a similar period over New Year.

Unfortunately as it is a voluntary Code, it is not possible to take enforcement action where it is ignored.

For further information on the sale of fireworks please contact Hampshire County Council, Trading Standards External Hyperlink, Mottisfont Court, High Street, Winchester SO23 8UJ or telephone 0845 6030081.

What legislation is there to control the use of fireworks?

The Fireworks Regulations 2004 have been made under the Fireworks Act 2003 and the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

This new legislation enables the Government to regulate the use of fireworks in order to reduce noise, nuisance and anti-social use of fireworks.

The new controls introduce:

Which fireworks are banned?

The following fireworks are banned from sale to the general public:

What is an 'adult firework'?

Fireworks are classified under British Standard 7114 into the following categories:

The Fireworks Regulations 2004 refer to 'adult fireworks', which are all fireworks with the exception of category 1 fireworks and category 2 sparklers.

Where can I get information on firework safety?

Information on firework safety is available from:

Is it illegal to throw fireworks?

It is an offence for any person, in any street and to the obstruction, annoyance or danger of the residents or passengers, to throw or set fire to any firework. Incidents of this nature should be reported to the police.

Do you need be registered to sell fireworks?

From 1st January 2005 anyone wanting to sell 'adult fireworks' outside the allowed days will require to be licensed.

For further information on the sale of fireworks please contact Hampshire County Council, Trading Standards External Hyperlink, Montgomery House, Monarch Way, Winchester, Hampshire SO22 5PW or telephone 0845 603 0081.

Why doesn't the government pass laws to regulate fireworks?

It does and it has. The Government has recently introduced a number of measures to regulate the supply, possession and use of fireworks under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 and the Fireworks Act 2003. The introduction of any further measures at this time would be premature given the recent changes to the Regulations. We will, however, keep the effectiveness of the new measures under constant review.

How many people are injured by fireworks each year?

In recent years approximately 1,000 people per year have required treatment at hospital casualty departments, with 5% of these being classed as "serious accidents" requiring a stay of one or more nights in hospital. With the new regulations it is hoped that this level of injuries will be reduced.

Why doesn't the Government do more to warn the public about fireworks hazards?

The DTI runs an annual firework safety campaign External Hyperlink working closely with the police, fire brigades, and local authority environmental health, education and trading standards departments as well as certain charities. In addition, many local authorities and fire services run local firework safety campaigns in the run-up to the firework season and play an active role in informing retailers of their legal obligations.

The Department has also launched an educational Firework Safety website External Hyperlink aimed at adults, children and teachers which offers advice on fireworks and the law, and where information leaflets, the Fireworks Code and campaign packs for schools may be viewed and downloaded.

Will the Government ban the sale of fireworks?

No. The Government does not believe that the case has been made for banning the sale of fireworks to the public. We have looked very closely at this, and believe that such a ban could lead to the development of a black market in fireworks and could also encourage people to produce homemade devices. When used sensibly and with consideration for others, fireworks are a very popular form of family entertainment.

What is the Government doing about distress and injuries caused to animals?

Under section 1 of the Protection of Animals Act 1911 it is an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to any domestic or captive animals. The penalty on conviction is a fine of up to £5,000 or up to six months imprisonment, or both. Enforcement of this section of the Act rests with trading standards, the police or the RSPCA as appropriate.

What is the Government doing to stop people throwing fireworks in the street?

This is already an offence under section 80 of the Explosives Act 1875 which prohibits the throwing or setting off of fireworks in any highway, street, thoroughfare or public place. The power to enforce this section of the Act rests with the police. Anyone found guilty is liable to a fine of up to £5,000. Fixed penalty notices (on-the-spot fines) can also be issued for this offence.

In addition the new Fireworks Regulations 2004 External Hyperlink make it an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to possess fireworks in a public place. Those most prone to this sort of behaviour are the under 18s and it is hoped that this regulation, which is also punishable by fixed penalty notice, will further reduce such incidents.

Will the Government do something about the noise caused by fireworks?

The Government has introduced a curfew on the use of fireworks during night hours (11pm to 7am) and have also imposed a 120 decibel (AI) limit on category 3 fireworks (consumer display fireworks). In addition to these statutory measures, the fireworks industry have pledged to work to achieve a lower level of between 113 and 115 decibels (AI).

In certain circumstances excessive noise from fireworks could be deemed a statutory nuisance under Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 External Hyperlink which is the responsibility of the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) External Hyperlink. This Act provides local authorities with powers to prevent or abate noise nuisance from premises and land. It is for local authority environmental health officers to judge whether a problem complained about may be considered a "statutory nuisance" and to act accordingly.

Why are category 2 fireworks not covered by the statutory category 3 noise limit of 120 decibels?

Section 5 of the Fireworks Act 2003 External Hyperlink does not allow for the regulation of category 1 (party poppers, etc.) and 2 fireworks (garden fireworks). However, given the generally small nature of such fireworks (evidenced by the short distance for measuring noise emitted from them), we consider that these fireworks do not present as much of a nuisance as their category 3 cousins.

Notwithstanding the above, the Government intends to make it a statutory requirement that all fireworks comply with the new harmonised European Standard on fireworks (BS EN1403). This standard is expected to be completed sometime in 2005 and will replace the current BS 7114. Among other things, this standard sets out maximum noise levels for category 2 and 3 fireworks – that level being the same as stipulated in the 2004 Regulations for Category 3 fireworks (120 decibels). The Government will make this a legal requirement by referencing this standard under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

How can we be sure that fireworks don't fall into the wrong hands and that fireworks are stored safely?

It is an offence to keep fireworks (except those for private use) on premises which have not been registered or licensed for that purpose. The Health and Safety Executive and Trading Standards vigorously enforce this law.

Under the Control of Explosives Regulations 1991 individuals can store fireworks for private use for up to 14 days provided they are kept in a safe and suitable place with due precautions for public safety.

 

It is also an offence for any person other than a fireworks professional to possess category 4 fireworks. This offence is enforced the police.

Wouldn't it be better to limit the use of fireworks to organised displays?

It is sometimes argued that the use of fireworks should be restricted to licensed organised displays. But fireworks can provide a popular form of family entertainment provided they are used safely and the Government is not persuaded that there is a case for banning the retail sale of fireworks.

How can we be sure that organised displays are safe?

Many public displays are covered by the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 External Hyperlink. This requires that the safety of operators and the public must be safeguarded. While we encourage all operators to be properly trained, the Government does not have any immediate plans to require display operators to undergo mandatory training as there is little evidence to suggest that the injuries sustained at fireworks displays are as a result of operator incompetence.

Most fireworks are imported. How can we be sure they are safe?

Most fireworks sold to the general public in the UK originate in China. But whether fireworks are imported or made here in the UK, all which are intended for use by the public, must meet the requirements of the Fireworks (Safety) Regulations 1997 (as amended), the Fireworks Regulations 2004 and the British Standard BS 7114.

Where can I get further information?

Further information on the Regulations and the DTI's firework safety campaign material can be obtained from visiting the DTI's Firework Safety website: www.berr.gov.uk/fireworks External Hyperlink

Other Links:

Fireworks Regulations 2004
www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2004/20041836.htm External Hyperlink

 

Fireworks Act 2003
www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2003/20030022.htm External Hyperlink

 

Fireworks (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 2004

www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2004/20041372.htm External Hyperlink

 

Fireworks (Safety) Regulations 1997
www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1997/19972294.htm External Hyperlink

 

The Health and Safety Executive External Hyperlink


Trading Standards External Hyperlink



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