Bonfire and Firework safety

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This guidance note is designed to offer advice and guidance to individuals or organisations who are involved in public bonfire and fireworks displays that are not
being undertaken by professional display organisers.

The advice contained in this note is a digest of the information contained in guidance documents issued by the Department for Trade and Industry and National Community Fire Safety Centre set up under the direction of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

If a professional contractor is engaged to provide a firework display, they should comply with the guidance set out in the Health & Safety Executive's publication HSG123 – ‘Working together on firework displays'. It is further recommended that any person employing the services of a professional display company, consider the guidance given in this document, and seek assurance that the company are properly authorised and/or certificated to carry out the display.

Further details can be found on the Government's Health & Safety Executive's website at the following link:

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Bonfires: Public Displays

General instructions and safety advice

Before lighting the fire, check its construction carefully to make sure that it is stable, and that there are no children or animals inside.

  • Make one person responsible for the bonfire, and allow only that person and designated helpers into the bonfire area
  • Do not use petrol or paraffin to light the fire
  • A safer way to light it is to use paper and solid firelighters in two or three places to ensure an even burn
  • Do not burn dangerous rubbish such as foam-filled furniture, rubber, aerosols, tins of paint, pressurised gas cylinders, tyres or bottles
  • Materials producing light ash, which could blow about, such as corrugated cardboard, are unsuitable for burning
  • The people looking after the bonfire are advised not to wear lightweight clothing which could ignite relatively easily. They are recommended to wear a substantial outer garment of wool or other material of low flammability and strong boots or shoes
  • Make sure people know what to do in the event of a burn injury or a person's clothing catching fire, and also have a fire blanket ready in the bonfire area
  • After the display, ensure that the bonfire is completely extinguished and keep spectators out of the bonfire area until this has been done

The following requirements are important for all aspects of the display and need to be considered in assessing each activity:

  • What are the hazards?
  • Who might be harmed, and how?
  • How likely is it that somebody will be harmed?
  • Are existing precautions adequate or should more be done?
  • What further action is necessary to control the risks, which are found not to be adequately controlled?
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Specific requirements for a Public Display bonfire

The attached PDF leaflet provides guidance on the following:

  • General instructions and safety advice
  • Bonfire location
  • Preparing the site of the bonfire
  • Authorities to contact prior to the event
  • Provision of site facilities
  • Crowd safety
  • What to do if something goes wrong
  • Bonfire out of control or fire started by firework debris
  • Disorderly behaviour by spectators
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Fireworks

Did you know:

  • It is an offence to let fireworks off between 11pm and 7am, except on Bonfire Night (midnight), Diwali, New Year, and Chinese New Year (1am)
  • It is against the law to carry fireworks in public if you're under 18
  • It is against the law to throw or set off fireworks in the street
  • Fireworks must not be sold to anyone who is under 18

Do and don'ts

  • Keep fireworks in a closed metal box and take them out one at a time
  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions on each firework. Read them by torchlight – Never a naked flame
  • Light fireworks at arm's length using a safety firework lighter or fuse wick
  • Stand back after lighting
  • Never go back to a firework once lit – it may go off in your face
  • Keep a bucket of water handy
  • Used fireworks should be collected after the display with care. Douse with water, bury or place in a metal container
  • Keep children under control
  • Keep pets indoors

For further details about Firework Safety please visit the following links:

If you are a professional contractor engaged in providing a firework display, you should comply with the guidance set out in the Health & Safety Executive's publication HSG123 - 'Working together on firework displays'.

Further details can be found on the Government's Health & Safety Executive's website at the following link:

Useful links

Further information

Community Fire Safety

Telephone: 01743 260 200