HSE Guidance on Organising Firework Displays

At this time of year, many people will be looking forward to attending firework displays to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night. For those organising such events, it is important to ensure they are planned carefully. Fortunately, guidance on this topic is available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

It is important to make sure the venue you choose is large enough for the event, so that fireworks will land a safe distance from spectators. Make sure there is plenty of room for the bonfire if you are having one. Remember to check for possible obstructions such as overhead power lines: this should be done during daylight hours. It is also important to plan for possible changes in wind direction on the day.

Fireworks must be stored in a suitable place: you should be able to get advice on this from the supplier or from the local authority. If you are planning to serve alcoholic drinks, this should be done well away from the firework display.

If you are using fireworks in categories 1, 2 and 3, you can light these yourself: however, remember to keep clear of fireworks that do not go off. Category 4 fireworks may only be used by professional firework display operators.

Make sure you have a plan in case of an emergency. Someone should be nominated to call the emergency services – for larger events, you should contact the emergency services in advance, as well as the local authority.

Although not compulsory under health and safety law, making sure the event is covered by public liability insurance is highly advisable. The venue may already be covered for this type of event, and professional firework display operators should have their own cover. If you need public liability insurance, it is worth trying to find a provider which is used to insuring these kind of events.

The HSE guidance includes a checklist of what needs to be done before the event, on the day and the following morning.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.