Legal advice: Firework displays

Related tags Fireworks

Remember, remember the regulations should you host fireworks on the 5th of November.By Kathryn Dowsett of's team of legal experts...

Remember, remember the regulations should you host fireworks on the 5th of November.

By Kathryn Dowsett of's team of legal experts from London solicitors Joelson Wilson.

Are you planning a fireworks extravaganza in your pub garden? Well, the Fireworks Regulations 2004 came into force on August 7 and could affect you. The regulations introduce a range of offences regarding the possession and use of "adult fireworks". This is defined as a firework which does not comply with the British Standard BS 7114, with the exception of caps, party poppers, sparklers, cracker snaps, novelty matches, serpents and throwdowns.

The regulations prohibit the use of adult fireworks between the hours of 11pm and 7am. However, a number of traditional, religious and cultural events have been granted extensions for displays.

On November 5, adult fireworks can be used until midnight. This means that the standard prohibition will apply to firework displays on all other bonfire nights around Guy Fawkes'. Extensions for New Year's Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali are until 1am.

You will need to ensure that your fireworks party does not exceed these time limits as you could face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months' imprisonment for breaking the curfew.

It is now an offence for any person under the age of 18 to possess an adult firework in a public place (which could include your pub garden). The regulations also restrict the selection of fireworks available for use by the general public. It is now an offence for anyone (regardless of age) to be in possession of a powerful (Category 4) firework unless that person falls within certain strictly defined categories, such as professional organisers of firework displays. Consequently, if you want to use Category 4 fireworks in your display, you will have to use a professional operator.

As we all know, fireworks cause hundreds of injuries every year. Fewer know, however, that a simple sparkler reaches temperatures of up to 2,000°C - over 15 times the boiling point of water. A staggering 1,136 people were treated in casualty last year as the result of a firework injury. All kinds of fireworks therefore need handling with extreme care. Organisers of public or semi-public displays should be aware of the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which places a responsibility on them to ensure the safety of both employees and members of the public.

Related topics Legislation

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