Safe Use of Fireworks, Legislation and the Law
Last updated: 28/10/2013
Add to My Bookmarks
Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service and Devon and Cornwall
Police are working in partnership with all major
retailers to ensure that members of the
public organising their own firework displays, do so in a
safe and responsible manner.
CFRS and Devon and Cornwall Police have carried out a
firework safety initiative in the Bodmin area after a
serious incident and loss of life involving the misuse of
This year sees us spread the firework safe message across the
whole county. Firework retailers in Cornwall are taking part
in our "Safe Sell, Safe Use" firework safety campaign.
More details for retailers selling fireworks can be found on the
following page - Fireworks - Safe Sell Safe Use.
Legislation, the Law and You
Fireworks will only be widely available during the weeks leading
up to Guy Fawkes Night and a few days before New Year's
Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year. For the rest of the year, you
will only be able to buy fireworks from shops that are licensed to
New legislation has been introduced to help make fireworks safer
to use and tackle their deliberate misuse. It affects how fireworks
are imported, sold and used, and places restrictions on possession.
It means that fireworks will be safer, less noisy and can only be
let off at certain times. It also means that those misusing them to
either damage property or injure will be able to be dealt with by
the relevant authorities. As a consumer, you along with retailers,
have new responsibilities.
Where to buy
Don't cut corners just to save a few quid. Always buy fireworks
from a reputable shop to make sure that they conform to British
Standards. This means that they should have BS 7114 written on the
box. Sometimes shops open up for a short time before Guy
Fawkes Night but these may not be the best places to buy
fireworks from. Staff in these shops might not be very
knowledgeable about using fireworks safely and their fireworks
might not meet British Standards. Whatever you do, don't buy
fireworks from anywhere you're not sure about, such as the back of
a van or from a temporary, unlicensed market stall. All
retailers that are supporting our "Safe Sell, Safe Use" campaign
should have the sticker (shown to the right) on all their
What to buy
There are different categories of fireworks. Members of the
public can buy and set off most of the fireworks that come under
Categories 1 to 3. These are fireworks that you can use indoors, in
your garden or at a display. Always read the packet carefully and
make sure that the fireworks you buy are suitable for the place
where you are going to set them off.
Some fireworks can only be bought and used by firework
professionals. These include:
- Any firework which does not comply with BS 7114 or BS EN
15947-1/2/3/4/5:2010 (compliance is normally stated on the firework
- Air bombs.
- Aerial shells, aerial maroons, shells-in-mortar and
- All bangers, (including batteries containing bangers, such as
- Mini rockets.
- Some category 2 and 3 fireworks (as defined by BS 7114), which
exceed size limits in the 1997 regulations.
- Fireworks with erratic flight (e.g. ground spinners, jumping
- All Category 4 fireworks (large display fireworks).
For information on retailers selling Fireworks, please visit our
page held within Business Safety - Fireworks
- Safe Sell Safe Use.
Setting them off
Only one person should be in charge of fireworks. If that's you,
then make sure you take all the necessary precautions. Read the
instructions in daylight and don't drink any alcohol until they've
all been discharged. On the night, you will need...
- a torch
- a bucket of water
- eye protection and gloves
- a bucket of soft earth to put fireworks in
- suitable supports and launchers if you're setting off catherine
wheels or rockets.
Please see our page on general firework safety for more details which includes
the firework code.
Did you know?
You can't set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am; except for on
5 November, when you can set them off until midnight and New Year's
Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali, when they can be set off until
You must be over 18 to buy fireworks and sparklers. Caps,
cracker snaps, indoor fireworks, novelty matches, party poppers,
serpents and throwdowns must not be supplied to persons under
It is an offence to throw or set off fireworks in a street or
public place and it is also illegal for anyone under 18 to possess
fireworks in public.
It is an offence for people who aren't firework professionals to
buy and possess category 4 fireworks. These are only to be used at
public displays by firework professionals.
It is an offence under section 80 of the Explosives Act 1875 to
throw or set off 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 pay a fine of up
to £5,000. Penalty notices for disorder (on-the-spot fines) can
also be issued for this offence, attracting the upper tier fine of
In Regulations made under the Fireworks Act 2003, it is also an
offence for the under 18s to possess fireworks in a public place
and for anyone to let fireworks off during night hours (11pm to
7am). As from 11 October 2004, police also have the power to issue
penalty notices for disorder for these offences. Again, the offence
attracts the upper tier fine of £80.
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.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Firework Safety
You should be aware that the CAA has guidelines for organisers
of major events using fireworks near airports. Further details are
available from the CAA website.
For further firework information on the legislation for
retailers, visit the Business Fire Safety section - Fireworks
- Safe Sell Safe Use page.
Outdoor fire safety
Fire Safety in the home