I don’t want to take away from the enjoyment, but it is imperative that your event is carefully planned – not just before the event, but also during it to ensure it runs as smoothly as possible.
Firstly, it is important to remember that, as the holder of any firework display, you are responsible for the event and you should be clear who will have overall control for safety during it.
It is advisable only one person is in charge, but if other staff are assisting then you should ensure your employer’s liability insurance (and on that note public liability insurance for spectators) is all in order prior to the event.
You should consider where the event will be held and ensure that there is a suitable area, which is away from buildings, trees or other obstructions, for the fireworks to be set off and also an area for them to land. It is important that alongside this you consider where the spectators will stand, access to the area, and the number of people who will attend to ensure there is no overcrowding.
If you are planning to serve alcohol at the event then you should ensure that any bar is away from this area.
Fireworks should be purchased from a reputable supplier and only be categories 1, 2 or 3 (indoor, garden and display) if you are planning to light these yourself – if they are category 4 (not available to the general public) then these can only be lit by a professional.
Timings need to be given careful consideration as it is illegal to set off fireworks between 23:00 and 07:00 (unless your event is on 5th November then it is 00:00) and if you breach this curfew it could result in prosecution and a fine of up to £5,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to six months. You could also receive an on-the spot fine of £90.
It is important that you discuss your planned event with your local council as they may have additional rules and you should also consider which other authorities may need to be notified - e.g, fire brigade, police etc.
Finally, not to put a dampener on things, but there should be an ‘action plan’ in place in case something goes wrong on the night – e.g, adverse weather conditions, an injury, or a fire started by firework debris. You should ensure that staff are easily identifiable and know where fire safety equipment is located, there are enough staff on duty for the number of spectators, first aid trained staff are on duty and, worst case scenario, have someone on standby to call the emergency services if necessary.