Organising firework displays and bonfires

Our guidance on organised firework displays and bonfires sets out a few simple measures that can help you celebrate safely.  It includes safety tips for hosting and enjoying your own safe fireworks party, and on having a safe bonfire.


It is an offence to let fireworks off between 11pm and 7am, except on Bonfire Night (midnight to 7am), New Year's Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali (1am to 7am).


This checklist is not exhaustive, and each event must be individually assessed to ensure that all the hazards have been identified, and necessary precautions taken to reduce the risks.

The following information should be covered in a risk assessment for the event:


  • examine the site and draw up a plan indicating the location of the firework firing area, the bonfire and where the public will be
  • consider the location of trees, buildings, overhead cables and type of fireworks to be fired
  • cordon off the display area, ensuring that the public are a safe distance away, having regard to instructions on the fireworks
  • ensure that adequate lighting is provided to all areas


  • keep cars away from the display site. Signpost the car park and access points to the display area
  • place a clear sign at the entrance to the site asking people not to bring their own fireworks to the display - this includes sparklers


  • provide sufficient fire blankets/sand buckets/hoses/water
  • ensure that all staff know where they are and how to use them

First Aid

  • ensure that a complete First Aid kit is readily available and staff are instructed in what to do in the event of an emergency
  • cold water must also be available to enable burns to be treated quickly

Marshalling staff

  • ensure that there are sufficient staff to ensure public safety
  • marshalls should be easily identified, ie wearing high visibility vest
  • they should be provided with torches/whistles and be instructed in the emergency drill
  • marshalls must not be under the influence of alcohol and should watch the spectators, not the display


  • Category 1, 2 and 3 fireworks should always have instructions on them and are on sale to the general public
  • on no account should Category 4 fireworks be used
  • Category 4 fireworks should only be used by professional pyrotechnic operators and are lethal if misused
  • always purchase your fireworks from a reputable supplier
  • fireworks have to meet stringent safety standards and those purchased from a reputable supplier will have been tested to meet these standards. Category F1/F2/F3 fireworks must meet BS EN 15947
  • all fireworks must be stored in flame resistant containers
  • keep the container upwind from the display and bonfire and keep covered at all times
  • ensure that the fireworks and bonfires are not left unattended when set up, keep fireworks secure prior to display
  • follow the specific instructions on the fireworks. Ensure that they are staked and angled away from spectators, and be aware of the site limitations, including maximum safe distances when choosing fireworks

Setting off fireworks

  • plan the layout of the fireworks and ensure that staff know how to set them off and the firing sequence
  • ensure that the wind direction has been accounted for
  • in high winds the display may have to be modified or cancelled
  • ensure that the fireworks are kept dry
  • wet fireworks can be extremely dangerous
  • use polythene bags to keep the fireworks dry, and remove just before firing
  • limit the number of staff setting off the fireworks
  • staff firing fireworks should wear goggles, gloves, strong shoes, and for aerial displays, a hard hat
  • clothing should not be loose fitting, with no nylon, fleeces or flammable clothes
  • staff should also be provided with torches and port fires or slow burning wicks
  • ensure that staff know the procedure if fireworks fail to go off, ie wait 30 minutes, place into a bucket of water; contact the supplier regarding disposal


  • as a general rule of thumb, the bonfire should be a minimum of 5 times its height away from property
  • supervise the lighting of the bonfire
  • do not use petrol or other flammable liquids to light it
  • check the fire for children and animals before lighting
  • do not burn items which may produce toxic fumes
  • cordon off the bonfire to keep the public at a safe distance
  • after the event, ensure that the site is cleared and the bonfire is extinguised

After the display

  • keep the firing area clear of spectators until the operators have had time to clear up
  • locate and deal with any dud fireworks
  • dud fireworks should be soaked for 24 hours to make them harmless
  • at the end of the display, make a log of how the display went, including the direction and speed of the wind, where the main fall-out landed, crowd size, misfires and any feedback

Who to notify

  • in order to minimise disturbance to neighbours, inform nearby residential homes, animal homes etc about the display, and ensure the display finishes at a reasonable time
  • remember, it is an offence to let fireworks off between 11pm to 7am except on Bonfire Night (midnight to 7am), New Year's Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali (1am to 7am)
  • you may also wish to notify the Fire Service, local Police and the Local Authority
  • ensure that you have adequate insurance cover for the proposed event

If an accident occurs at your event please inform the Health and Safety Enforcement team on 0114 2735774 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Register your event

Although it is not a legal requirement, you can voluntarily register your event by emailing the details to

Contact Health Protection

5th Floor North
Howden House
1 Union Street
S1 2SH

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