At a glance
- Organised firework displays are often held as part of a public celebration
- It is important to have plans in place to effectively manage and minimise any associated dangers
- Check out the top tips in our guide for display organisers
Public celebrations such as Guy Fawkes, Diwali and New Year have seen an increase in managed firework displays.
It has been reported that in 2017, nearly 4500 people attended A&E with firework related injuries. Like all outdoor events, organised firework displays should be planned and managed effectively in advance to minimise any associated dangers and hazards.
For instance, near the beginning of a council-organised fireworks display, a spark ignited some of the fireworks – causing the vast majority to then ignite.
A review found that no checks had been carried out on the competency of the contractor who was employed to set up and manage the display.
At another event, a woman was struck by a piece of wood from a structure containing fireworks. She suffered a serious injury causing memory loss and subsequent loss of her job.
We have some tips on how to make sure you properly plan the event.
Guide for display organisers
- Establish an event committee with individuals responsible for dedicated tasks, including overall safety
- Carry out a risk assessment of the proposed event
- Advise the emergency services in advance. Their level of involvement will depend on the size and type of event
- Contact the local ambulance service and the first aid providers regarding the provision of first aid facilities
- Establish an emergency plan
Considerations when choosing the site
- Access to and from the site
- Crowd segregation
- Condition of the site
- Provision of temporary lighting
- Likely effect of extreme weather
- Proximity of, and the risk to, any surrounding properties, roads, railways and overhead power lines
- Whether any local airports should be advised of the intention to hold an event
- Carry out site safety inspections before and after the event. There should be a formal record of these inspections, signed and dated
- Provide suitable numbers of trained stewards. It is recommended that a professional private contractor be employed for large events
- Stewards should be provided with fluorescent clothing, torches and an effective means of communication. If they are stationed near to the firing or drop zone areas, then hard hats and ear defenders should be worn
- Signs should be displayed to direct members of the public to the correct routes and spectator areas
- Prohibit spectators from using their own fireworks
- Designated car parks should be well away from the firework drop zone
- All potentially hazardous leaves and vegetation should be cleared or cut back prior to the event
- Station fire spotters near the drop zone
- At any organised event, the firing should only be undertaken by a fully-qualified and competent person, or by a professional contractor
Employing contractors – what to check
- References from previous events
- Risk assessments
- Health and Safety Policy
- Health and safety arrangements – method statement, safe systems of work, etc
- Public liability insurance
- Training records
- Professional qualifications
- Health and safety convictions
- The risk assessment from the firer or contractor should include the firing arc, drop zone, fire spotters, fireworks compliance with British standards and adequate storage of the fireworks
The site should be divided into four separate areas, with minimum distances between each:
- Spectator area
- Safety area (between spectator area and firing area)
- Firing area
- Drop zone area
- If the wind should change direction or increase substantially before the event then consider postponing or cancelling the event
- Establish a procedure for the close down of the event
- If cash is to be collected on the night then security and the safety of employees and/or volunteers must be considered
You can find further safety tips in the government’s Community guide to organising bonfires and fireworks.