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In the immediate aftermath of the arrest of Guy Fawkes, King James 1 of England allowed the public to celebrate his survival with bonfires – “so long as they were without any danger or disorder”. Today, we’ve added fireworks to the mix; which makes the King’s words on “danger and disorder” even more pertinent.

Fireworks night should be a fun family occasion. But there is legislation in place to ensure that people don’t get hurt. Here’s what you need to know.


Fireworks Law

Fireworks can reach temperatures more than 15 times hotter than boiling water. As such, it’s important that you use them in a responsible manner. The following laws were created to help keep the public safe.

 Under-18s are not allowed to buy or carry fireworks (including sparklers)

• It is an offence to tamper with or modify fireworks

• You can only buy fireworks (including sparklers) from registered sellers for private use on these dates:

      • 15 October to 10 November
      • 26 to 31 of December
      • Three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year

 At other times, you can only buy fireworks from licensed shops

 You are not allowed to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am – except for on Bonfire night (when the cut off is mid-night), New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year (when the cut off is 1am)

 Category 1 (indoor), Category 2 (garden) and Category 3 (display) fireworks can be purchased and used by anyone over the age of 18. Category 4 (professional) fireworks are available only to professionals.

 It is illegal to set off fireworks or sparklers in the street or in a public place.

 Those caught selling or using fireworks illegally can be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to 6 months. You may also get an on-the-spot fine of £90.

Additionally, your council may have local rules regarding fireworks. Check with your council to find out whether any affect you.


Fireworks Safety

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) suggests the following fireworks safety code.

 Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable

 Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time

• Read and follow the instructions on each firework, using a torch if necessary

• Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper and stand well back

 Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks

• Never return to a firework once it has been lit

 Don’t put fireworks in pockets and don’t throw them

 Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators

In addition to these, we’ll add a couple of our own to the list:

• Don’t drink any alcohol until after all the fireworks have been set off

 Make sure you wear eye protection and gloves

 Keep a bucket or two of water on hand


Fireworks Advice for Pet Owners

Many animals do not enjoy fireworks. Unfortunately, even if you’re not planning to set fireworks off yourself, your pet will likely be affected by fireworks on Guy Fawkes night.

• Keep dogs and cats inside when fireworks are being let off

• Walk your dog early in the day – before fireworks are being launched

• Close windows and doors to keep noise to a minimum; lock cat flaps to prevent your pet getting out

• Create a “den” or a safe space where your pet will feel secure and comfortable.

• Leave your pet to it – whether it’s pacing, whining, barking, meowing or hiding, your pet is just trying to find safety

• Stay calm and act normally, giving lots of praise. If your pet responds well to strokes and cuddles, do it. If your pet would rather be left alone, don’t pester it.

• Avoid leaving your pet alone when fireworks are being set off.

• Don’t get angry with your pet if they act destructively or soil themselves. They are acting from fear, and chastising them will only further stress them.


Bonfire Law

Contrary to popular opinion, it is not illegal to have a bonfire. However, legislation exists to ensure fires are safe and to prevent them from becoming a nuisance. Here are some bonfire dos and don’ts.

• Do tell your neighbours beforehand if you’re planning to have a bonfire

• Do keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby in case of emergencies

• Do keep children and pets away from your fire

• Do ensure a responsible adult is present the entire time the fire is burning

• Do build your bonfire away from any sheds, fences or trees

• Do spray embers with water to ensure the fire has been completely extinguished

• Don’t light a bonfire near a road – smoke may drift across and make driving dangerous

• Don’t burn household waste – it can cause pollution and potentially harm people’s health. This applies especially to aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint

• Don’t use petrol or paraffin to get a bonfire going

• Don’t light a bonfire beneath cables such as telephone lines

• Don’t leave your bonfire unattended

• Don’t burn damp materials since they will cause excessive amounts of smoke

If someone has lit a bonfire that you deem to be a nuisance, contact the police. The fine for building a nuisance fire is up to £5,000.

Churchill Security is an established British security provider. We supply tailored security solutions to a range of industries. All of our security guards are highly-trained and SIA licensed.

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John Melling is a Director for Churchill Security Ltd. John is a highly motivated, determined and decisive security industry professional. Drawing on his extensive experience gained within the security industry whilst working on the coalface John has operated at all levels within the industry. He has a proven track record for motivating and leading high performance teams and has helped mentor and develop many people at Churchill who now hold key or senior positions within the business. John is committed to delivering only the finest services, exercising compelling leadership, maintaining good internal morale and striving to resolve any challenges efficiently and effectively.