Fireworks Displays & Bonfires

Fireworks Displays & Bonfires

Remember Remember – Stay Safe On 5th November

Bonfire Night is observed every year on 5th November and all across Britain, people will celebrate Bonfire night this weekend with fireworks displays and bonfires.

Please see the below advice from organisations such as West Midlands Fire Service, RSPCA and The Worcestershire Wildlife Trust on how you can keep yourselves and animals safe this weekend.


Fireworks often play a big part in celebrations like Bonfire Night, Diwali and Chinese New Year, but people forget that fireworks are explosives and they along with bonfires burn at very high temperatures.

West Midlands Fire Service recommends that people attend professionally organised fireworks events but, if you do have your own fireworks party, follow these safety tips:

  • Only purchase fireworks from a licensed outlet. Don’t purchase fireworks from places such as vans or temporary, unlicensed market stalls.
  • Only purchase fireworks marked BS 7114 or with a CE mark – this shows that the firework meets British or European safety standards (a reputable shop will know this)
  • Follow the instructions on each firework – read them in daylight or by torchlight, never by a naked flame
  • If not provided, create suitable supports and launchers if you’re setting off Catherine wheels or rockets.

Things you’ll need on the night

  • A closed metal box to store the fireworks – take them out one at a time
  • A bucket of water – to cool sparklers and put out any small fires
  • Eye protection and gloves
  • A bucket of earth to place used fireworks in

Lighting fireworks

  • Only one person should be responsible for letting off fireworks
  • Don’t drink alcohol if you’re setting off fireworks
  • Light fireworks at arm’s length, using a taper
  • Make sure everyone stands well back
  • Never go back to a firework that has been lit – even if it hasn’t gone off it could still explode without warning
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
  • Never throw used or unused fireworks onto a bonfire

Sparkler safety

  • Supervise children with sparklers and never give them to a child under five
  • Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
  • Put used sparklers hot end down into a bucket of sand or water

Fireworks and the law

Fireworks can only be sold to persons aged 18 years or older. Sparklers are classed as fireworks and the same laws apply. It is illegal for under 18’s to possess fireworks. It is not a legal requirement to have any kind of licence or training to buy consumer fireworks.

It is against the law to:

  • Set off or throw fireworks in the street or other public place
  • Set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am – except during certain celebrations.

If found guilty of the above, you could be fined or jailed.

You can let off fireworks:

  • until midnight on Bonfire Night
  • until 1am on New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year

Fireworks for private use, and from a registered seller, can only be sold at certain times of the year. For the rest of the year, you will only be able to purchase fireworks from shops that are licensed to supply them.

Have a look at GOV.UK for more information on firework legislation.



Safety is the key to having a safe and successful bonfire, at anytime of the year. Bonfires need a lot of organising and can be a serious hazard. Most displays are a great success however if you are planning to do your own display then please follow the below safety advice from The Fire Service to ensure that it can be enjoyed safely.

Inform the authorities of your plans such as your local authority, Police, Fire and Rescue and First Aid organisations.

As well as liaising with the authorities you should do the following:

  • Plan your display with careful consideration. Make one person responsible for it, from early planning to final clearing up.
  • Arrange for you and your team to be trained in the various tasks for the night, including all emergency drills
  • Arrange for first aid posts to be manned by qualified people. Borrow or hire special clothing (bibs, jackets etc.) to identify you and your team on the night
  • Arrange some form of public address system – as a safety measure, not just for commentary. A loud hailer will do as a bare minimum
  • Arrange for fire extinguishers, buckets of water, buckets of sand and metal litter bins to be available on the night
  • Check that plenty of electric torches will be available on the night, with full batteries
  • Publicise the fact that spectators are not allowed to bring their own fireworks (including sparklers) and will not be admitted if they do so
  • Prepare all necessary signs
  • Make absolutely sure that you’ll have enough people available on the night (including some cover for illness)
  • Draw up a detailed checklist of tasks and indicate who is to be responsible for each one
  • Check whether you are adequately insured to cover any bonfire-related injuries to those present at the display
  • Vet any traders you intend to allow on the site
  • Choose a suitable and safe site with clear boundaries, a designated car park and emergency exits.

Have a look at GOV.UK and The Fire Service for more information on Bonfire safety and legislation.

Most of all Bonfires and Fireworks are supposed to be safely enjoyed.


Sky Lanterns:

Sky lanterns are becoming a popular addition to celebrations, however the potential damage they can cause is substantial.

They use the heat of a naked flame to float. They’re not only a fire hazard but also a danger to livestock, agriculture, camping activities, thatched properties and hazardous material sites.

Whilst lighting and launch are mostly in the control of the user, the actual flight path and end destination are not. There’s no guarantee that the fuel cell will be completely out and cooled when the lantern eventually lands, and any contact with a flammable surface could result in a fire.

There is evidence of them causing fires, wasting police time, being mistaken for distress flares, misleading aircraft and killing livestock.

West Midlands Fire Service do not support the use of Sky Lanterns and they urge members of the public and event organisers not to use them – in 2013 they attended a huge blaze that took 35 fire crews to extinguish.


Looking After Pets & Animals:

Animals can be terrified by fireworks and bonfires are a hazard to rural animals. Warn your neighbours and local farmers in advance if you are planning a display so they can keep pets/livestock indoors and take necessary precautions.

Pets should be kept indoors. Most animals get scared by the lights and noise from fireworks and it can be a distressing time for them. It is against the law to cause any unnecessary suffering to any domestic, agricultural or captive animal. The penalty can be several months in jail, a hefty fine, or both.

Please see the below advice from RSPCA and The Worcestershire Wildlife Trust on how to look after animals this weekend.

Many animals find fireworks scary. It’s estimated that 45 percent of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks.

How to calm dogs during fireworks

  • Walk them during daylight hours to avoid times when fireworks are likely to be set off
  • Close windows and curtains to muffle the sound of fireworks
  • Put on some music or TV to mask the firework sounds
  • Create a quiet space where your dog can feel in control
  • Create some hiding places around your home

How to calm cats during fireworks

  • Provide hiding places in your home
  • Cats can become more stressed if they’re outside during fireworks
  • Microchip your cats in case they’re startled and escape outside

How to calm small animals during fireworks

  • Partly cover outside cages and pens with blankets so an area is soundproofed and hidden, but allow another area for the animals to look out
  • Provide bedding small animals can burrow in
  • Consider bringing them indoors – this will need to be done gradually so plan ahead

Please remember to put animals on your checklist before lighting bonfires this year. Animals such as hedgehogs take shelter in bonfires before they are lit not realising the danger involved. Please see the below safety advice for bonfires and animals.

  • When storing bonfire material, store it away from the bonfire site and build the bonfire on the day as close to the lighting time as will allow.
  • Make an alternative home for animals and search the bonfire for animals using a torch and a rake before starting the fire. If any animals are found when you search the bonfire before lighting, move them to their new home.
  • Invest in a hedgehog box – these can either be purchased or built.


Dealing With Burns:

Treating burns depends on a number of factors, but early intervention will always reduce the damage to your skin. Stop the burn from spreading as soon as possible by cooling it under cold running water for at least 20 minutes.

Please see The NHS website for more information on how to treat burns and scalds.


Useful Links:




UK Fire Service Resources Ltd

West Midlands Fire Service 

Woodland Trust

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust



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