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Written by
on 03 November 2011


Proper Management of a Fireworks Display

This time of year is always a lot of fun with Halloween and Fireworks night.  If you are planning to hold a fireworks display or have a bonfire it is worth taking a few moments of your time to read some health and safety advice to make sure the event is one of entertainment and not disaster.

Health and safety consultants are able to help you to understand where you stand with the laws and regulations if you are holding a public display.  It is vital that you make sure the whole event is planned properly and that you have procedures available should any accidents occur during the event.

The HSE have put up a useful guide to help prevent accidents so here are a few of the major points which could mean the difference between a successful event and one which ends in injuries.  This is broken down into two sections, what to do before the event and on the day.  You can contact health and safety services to assist you if you are unsure of any of the guides, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Preparations for a Fireworks Celebration

  • Think about the type of display you will be having.  Fireworks come in different categories, 1, 2, 3 and 4. As an amateur you are allowed to light and be in charge of the fireworks within categories 1 to 3, however, category 4 fireworks have to have a professional operator.
  • Look at the area where you will be holding the event.  There must be enough room to have the display far enough away from the spectators as the fireworks need to land at a safe distance.  Look out for power lines above the area too as you may need to move the display area to avoid disaster.
  • Alcohol at the event needs to be positioned far from the display.
  • Consider where you will be storing the fireworks up until the display.
  • Make sure the supplier and manufacturer is reputable to make sure you are not sold faulty and dangerous goods.
  • Have a plan in place so that everyone knows what to do if an accident was to occur. Consider whether you will need to have the St. Johns Ambulance or any emergency services present.
  • If you have decided to use professional firework operators work closely with them so that you all know who is in charge in case there is an emergency.

Firework Display Night

  • Take a walk around the area and consider the weather conditions, is it too windy? Will the rain cause any additional safety problems?
  • Mark out restricted areas where spectators are not allowed to cross to keep them separated from the fireworks.
  • Designate the job of lighting the fire to one person and never use petrol or other fuel to start the fire.
  • Talk through safety procedures with any helpers.
  • Only light a firework once, never go and try to relight it if it fails.
  • Place a first aid kit in one area and signpost this area in case anyone is hurt.

Health and safety consultants will be able to advise you further on any insurance which is useful to have when planning public events. Contact 0800 1488 677 to speak about health and safety services further to make sure your event is helped safely and responsibly.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

  • Dave says:

    Good and timely post- one thing I would say though is that even if the event – fireworks or otherwise- is too small for St. Johns or similar organisations, it is worth asking for qualified first aiders to identify themselves before the event.
    If the event is sponsored by an employer then they should have FAW or EFAW qualified first aiders on their books who will probably jump at the chance of attending the event- you do need to check your insurance though.

  • Dan says:

    A great blog post – it’s amazing how much simple health and safety procedures can impact upon what could otherwise be a potentially extremely dangerous situation.

    With the recent M5 disaster being speculatively accredited to poor firework safety, it serves as an untimely reminder of the importance of taking care.

    Our thoughts are with those who were affected by the disaster.

    Thanks for the post and feel free to take a look at what we’re doing within the domestic environment, we’d value your thoughts.