Bonfire Night takes place this Saturday and households across the country have been reminded of the rules surrounding setting off fireworks at home.
Fire services say that organised displays are “the safest way” to enjoy fireworks, but have offered safety advice for those choosing to set them off in their gardens, including only buying from reputable sellers and not going back to a lit firework.
The RSPCA has also called for ‘firework control zones’ to restrict displays near wildlife spots and farms, where the loud noises and bright lights can scare animals and pets.
There are laws surrounding the use of personal fireworks – from buying them to when you can set them off – which can result in a criminal record if not followed.
When can you buy fireworks?
Fireworks and sparklers are only permitted to be sold by registered sellers like supermarkets to the general public on specific dates throughout the year.
15 October to 10 November
26 to 31 December
3 days before Diwali and Chinese New Year
Outside of these dates, fireworks can only be purchased from licensed shops.
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Who can buy fireworks?
There are four categories of fireworks, with anyone aged 18 or over permitted to buy ‘adult’ fireworks, in the first three categories.
However, category 4 can only be purchased and used by professionals and are not on general sale.
What are the categories?
Category 1 fireworks are smaller and less powerful than other fireworks, with some able to be used indoors. Examples of category 1 fireworks include sparklers, sky lanterns and smoke grenades.
Category 2 fireworks must be set off outdoors and are mostly used for garden displays due to the relatively small safe distance (eight metres) needed. Roman candles and rockets are just some of the large list of fireworks that fall into this category.
With a 25-metre safe distance required, category 3 fireworks are the most powerful available to the public and are best suited to larger outdoor areas. These fireworks, that include rockets and bangers, create a larger and louder display than those in category 2.
Only professionals are permitted to buy and use category 4 fireworks due to them being considered too dangerous and too powerful to untrained people. Professionals are formally trained in handling these fireworks, which are usually set off remotely in large-scale displays in cities during major events.
When can you set off fireworks?
Fireworks must not be set off between 11pm and 7am, but exceptions are made during major holidays or events.
Bonfire Night has a cut-off time of midnight, while it is legal to set fireworks off until 1am on New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year.
The public are not allowed to set fireworks off in the street or other public places.
What is the punishment for breaking the law?
An unlimited fine can be imposed on anyone selling or using fireworks illegally.
An on-the-spot fine of £90 can also be imposed, while those breaking fireworks laws can also be imprisoned for up to six months.