Top tips on fireworks safety at your pub

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Fireworks Safety executive

Licensees should ensure any fireworks display at their pub is safe for customers and staff
Licensees should ensure any fireworks display at their pub is safe for customers and staff
If you are planning a small fireworks display at your pub to celebrate Bonfire Night, here are a few tips to ensure that the event runs smoothly and, above all, safely.

Suitability of external area
■ You’ll need to designate a firing area, a safety zone where the falling fireworks will land and a spectators’ area. Make sure your safety zone is well away from the car park. The area must be free from obstructions (eg overhead cables) and away from other buildings.
■ Consider how people will access the area, lighting and exit routes.
■ Avoid overcrowding; allow 0.5sq m per person, having mapped out your firing and safety area.

Check weather conditions
■ If there are high winds, you may need to alter the site layout, cancel the event or not include high aerial displays. Your spectators will need to be upwind of both the firing area and safety zone.

Types of fireworks
■ Unless you are using a professional fireworks display operative, you are restricted to using category one, two and three fireworks. Check the instructions before you purchase the fireworks.
■ Category one: Indoor fireworks.
Category two: Garden fireworks (for example, selection box fireworks from supermarkets).
Category three: Display fireworks (the largest fireworks on retail sale).
Category four: These are not available to the general public.

Inform your neighbours
■ Seek advice if necessary.
■ Speak to the local authority and your local fire officer. Other people to warn are the police, St John Ambulance, local airports and, if you are within five miles of the sea, the coastguard.

Provide sufficient stewards
■ One person must be in overall charge of safety and planning, but everyone helping must be briefed on their responsibilities and wear high-visibility clothing. A public address system and radio link between helpers is sensible. Position fire extinguishers, blankets, water and sand where they are easily accessible. You will need at least two stewards/helpers for the first 500 spectators and an additional one for every 250 people thereafter (or part thereof). You will need one person to fire the fireworks and another to relay messages to the firer, if you are not using radios. First-aiders must be clearly identifiable and have the right equipment.

Public liability insurance
■ Check that you or your professional operative’s public liability insurance is in order. 

General safety tips
■ Plan the order of the fireworks.
■ Do not approach fireworks that don’t go off for at least 30 minutes.
■ Don’t let people bring their own fireworks or sparklers. Children under five shouldn’t use sparklers.
■ Store fireworks in the box in which they were purchased or transfer them to a metal box.
■ The firer should carry a torch and whistle and use a portfire (slow-burning safety fuse) or the fuse supplied with the fireworks, not normal matches or a lighter.

After the display
■ Clear the public from the area.  
■ Clear the site of all fireworks casings using tongs or protective gloves. If a firework does not go off put it in a bucket of water. 

Under the Health & Safety at Work Act, you are responsible. Seek advice from your local authority and fire brigade. The Health & Safety Executive has two publications online: Working Together on Firework Displays​ and Giving Your Own Firework Display.

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