The BFA works with various enforcement authorities across the UK and Europe to ensure that products being imported and made available in the UK meets the specific requirements of the UK with regard to both safety and labelling.
The legislative framework for Fireworks is extensive and there are multiple pieces of legislation covering the design, quality, transportation, storage and sale of fireworks and it is important to understand that they must be considered as a whole, as they are interconnected and interdependent.
Pyrotechnics Directive 2015
This is the current overarching legislation which covers the technical requirements (implemented through BS EN 15947), testing and the safety requirements for fireworks. The directive may ultimately be replaced with a post-brexit Directive issued by the UK Government, however for the short to medium term, the existing directive requirements will be applicable in the UK. It is important to highlight that there are specific UK derogations surrounding the Directive that are covered in both the UK specific version of the Directive and The Fireworks Regulations 2004.
The Firework Regulations 2004
This is the overarching legislation covering the use and sale of fireworks within England & Wales. There is separate legislation covering Scotland under devolved powers.
The primary role of this legislation is to limit the periods of use within England & Wales, limit the type of fireworks which can be made available and specify the requirements for storage and selling fireworks all year round.
The Fireworks (Scotland) Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 2021
Under the devolved powers act, Scotland is seeking to introduce further changes to the legislation applicable in England & Wales. These changes fall into three main areas, areas. The first is the period of use, which will be 6pm until 11pm on each day of the year (certain expectations existing depending on the intended use of the fireworks), with extensions to Midnight on November 5th and 1am during other recognised seasonal periods. The second change rates to the period of sale, which is limited from 7am until 6pm, although again there are certain exemptions depending on the intended use. Finally, limitation of 5kg has been introduced on the maximum NEM (Nett Explosive Mass) which can be purchased in any single transaction. Once again there are exclusions depending on the intended use.
Explosive Regulations 2014 (ER2014)
This is the overarching document governing the storage of all explosives (including fireworks) and is applicable within the entire United Kingdom. It covers the storage of fireworks in both a wholesale and retail environment. Although HSE played a significant role in the drafting of the legislation, HSE do not have responsibility for licensing of storage below 2,000kg NEM. Storage below this limit falls under the responsibility of the local licensing authority (in some areas, Trading Standards, in others Fire & Rescue).
As ER2014 covers all explosives, there are a number of sections within the legislation which are not relevant to Firework storage and it is important to understand this when considering a license application.
In addition to the legislation, HSE have also produced a guidance document to accompany the legislation, a copy of which can be downloaded here https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l150.htm
THE FIREWORK CODE
The most important advice when using fireworks is to read the detailed instructions on each product (they are not all the same) and ALWAYS FOLLOW THE FIREWORK CODE.
* Do not buy fireworks from UNLICENCED retailers. These fireworks may be unsafe and illegal.
* Only buy fireworks that comply with current safety standards.*
* Always keep fireworks in a closed box. Take them out one at a time and close the box.
* Never put fireworks in your pocket.
* Be considerate. Let your neighbours know you will be having a display, especially if they are elderly or they have pets or children.
* Avoid setting fireworks off late at night, particularly if it is a school-night.
* Ensure your pets are safe.
* Carefully follow the instructions on EACH firework.
* Never go back to a lit firework unless the instructions advise otherwise.
* Never throw fireworks; it is dangerous.
* Light fireworks one at a time, at the end of the fuse, and at arm’s length.
* Light sparklers one at a time and wear suitable gloves, even when lighting them.
* Never give sparklers to a child under the age of 5.
* Never throw spent fireworks on a bonfire.
STAY SAFE, BE CONSIDERATE, AND DON’T BECOME A NUISANCE.
* All fireworks supplied by BFA members are tested to conform to the current UK safety standards, which may be different from other countries. If you require more information, contact the seller or any member of the BFA.
Click here to download a PDF version of the above BFA Firework Code.
Consumer Fireworks (those available to the general public) fall into three main categories (sometimes referred to as CAT).
CAT F1 – Smaller fireworks, some of which are suitable for indoor use and generally have the smallest safety distance.
CAT F2 – Small to Medium sized fireworks which are suitable for outdoor use only. Generally the minimum safe distance to spectators is 8 meters, although the specific instructions for each firework may state a larger distance, which is why it is important to check.
CAT F3 – Medium to Large sized fireworks and the highest available to the general public. Generally the minimum safe distance to spectators is 25 meters, although the specific instructions for each firework may state a larger distance, which is why it is important to check.
MISUSE OF FIREWORKS, YOU COULD BE FINED AND PROSECUTED
What is firework misuse?
* Possessing CAT F1 fireworks whilst aged 15 or under
* Possessing CAT F2 or CAT F3 fireworks whilst aged 17 or under
* Letting off fireworks between 11pm and 7am (midnight on Bonfire Night and 1am on New Years Eve)
* Throwing or setting off fireworks in a public place
The RED Firework Guide to GIVING YOUR OWN FIREWORK DISPLAY.
The Explosives Industry Group have created a new Red Firework Guide (which replaces HSG 124), this guide is available at http://www.eig2.org.uk/new-guides-for-firework-displays/