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Firework Safety


(Published May 2021, replacing Sept 2019)

Fireworks displays can be fun as well as a great fundraising activity for any Scout Group, District or County.

Check the HSE guidance for running firework events. It's really important to manage the use of fireworks safely at all times, from the moment they are purchased, to the disposal after use.

If you are intending to run a display it is the responsibility of your Commissioner and trustees to ensure that the event is run safely.  Even providing a small display with domestic fireworks needs to be approved by your Commissioner, properly planned and risk assessed.

Category 4 Fireworks

There is no reason why you should not light a display yourselves provided it only contains fireworks in categories 1, 2 and 3.  But remember, category 4 fireworks may only be used by professional firework display operators. In untrained hands they can be lethal.

Planning an Event

  • Preferably independent firework display organizers /operators/contractors should be used. If so, get written confirmation that they have public liability insurance and that they comply with all regulations and advice from the appropriate bodies.

  • One person should be appointed, who is in overall control of the event, with final responsibility for all health and safety matters. Produce a simple written plan to help communicate safety for this event to all involved.

  • Before setting up your event, make sure you have informed your local Emergency Services.

  • The site chosen should have as many entrances and exits as possible, which should be well lit and clearly signposted.

  • Keep well clear of buildings, trees, overhead power lines and other hazards. Car parking areas should be sited well away from the display area and dropping zone.

  • Make sure individuals are made fully aware of their duties, reporting and referral lines.

  • Keep spectators at a safe distance. A rope or strong barrier should be used to clearly mark off the display area.

  • Designate adult stewards for crowd control and any emergency. There must be at least one steward for every 250 spectators and a minimum of two. Stewards should be easily recognisable to spectators (HiViz).

  • Do not allow spectators to enter the site with their own fireworks – including sparklers.

  • Suitable firefighting equipment must be available.

  • Have a designated first aider(s). They should have reliable regular contact with the person in charge of the event. On a larger event radios makes this process much quicker and saves time in an emergency.

Managing the Fireworks

  • Try to recruit at least one person with previous firework experience.

  • Appropriate safety clothing, headgear, gloves and goggles should be worn by persons responsible for lighting any bonfire or fireworks.

  • All fireworks used should be compliant with British Safety Standards.

  • Fireworks should only be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Keep fireworks in a metal container and remove one at a time, replacing the lid.

  • Fireworks which fail to ignite should not be returned to.

  • Spent or failed fireworks should be soaked in a container of water and manufacturer consulted about disposal. Fireworks must not be put on bonfires


  • Any bonfire must be a safe distance from spectators, and well away from firework firing area.

  • A responsible adult should be in charge.

  • The bonfire should be stable and a manageable size.

  • Check the bonfire for pets and wildlife, especially hedgehogs, before lighting it.

  • Never use paraffin, petrol or solvents to start a fire or once lit.

  • Dangerous rubbish such as aerosols should never be burnt.

  • Water should be poured on embers and the site should not be left until the fire is completely out.

Further Support

There are lots of places to get additional support and advice, check out the support available below.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), publish excellent simple guidance on firework displays. These are essential reading for a display organiser. If you cannot comply with the HSE recommendations, you should not be running the event!

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Get Protected

Fireworks displays are often cancelled due to bad weather. Unity can arrange a Cancellation & Abandonment policy to cover your investment, if the event has to be cancelled for reasons outside your control.

If the event is a fundraising event, you may need Money cover for cash you raise.

Check out Unity’s page on Firework Displays for the insurance cover you may need.

Watch the Firework and Bonfire event safety video below

To watch in full screen, double click the video