1:00 AM 4th November 2023
Bonfire Night and Firework Rules in the UK
Image by James Timothy Peters from Pixabay
Guy Fawkes Night, is a British tradition that lights up the sky on the 5th of November. It's a night of fireworks, bonfires, and celebrations, but amidst the excitement, it's crucial to remember the regulations that govern the safe use and transportation of fireworks.
Zego Insurance walks you through the dos and don'ts, helping you enjoy the festivities without running into trouble with the law.
Transportation of Fireworks
The transportation of fireworks is regulated, especially for larger quantities. Small amounts for personal use generally don't require a special vehicle, but for larger quantities, vehicles with a Vehicle Special Order (VSO) might be required.
Hazardous Material Regulations
If you're transporting large quantities, you'll have to adhere to the regulations outlined for hazardous goods, which could require specialised storage solutions within the vehicle.
Storage and Handling
Fireworks must be stored in a cool, dry place, away from any sources of ignition. While in transit, ensure they are securely packaged to prevent accidental discharge.
You must be over 18 to purchase fireworks in the UK. Retailers are obliged to verify your age, and selling fireworks to minors is illegal.
Fireworks are categorised into F1, F2, F3, and F4. Most consumer fireworks fall under F2 and F3, with F1 being the least hazardous and F4 reserved for professional displays.
Licences and Permits
Retailers must have a licence to sell fireworks. If you're planning a public display, you'll need to get a permit from your local authority.
Fireworks are usually only permitted to be set off between 7 am and 11 pm. However, for Bonfire Night, the time extends until midnight.
You cannot set off fireworks on public land, including streets and parks, without prior permission from the local council.
Excessively loud fireworks could land you in trouble for causing noise pollution. Check your local council's guidelines on acceptable noise levels.
Be mindful of pets and wildlife. The loud noises can distress animals, so it's often courteous to inform neighbours if you're planning a display.
Here are some common scenarios where bonfires may be restricted or illegal:
Smoke Control Areas
In designated Smoke Control Areas, usually in urban or densely populated settings, the use of open fires and the emission of smoke are more tightly regulated. Burning materials that produce smoke in these areas could be an offence.
Bonfires that cause excessive smoke, fumes, or odour can be deemed a "statutory nuisance," potentially leading to fines or legal action under environmental protection laws.
Leasehold or Rental Agreements
If you're renting your property or if it's part of a leasehold, there may be clauses in your agreement that prohibit bonfires. Make sure to check your contract before lighting one.
Proximity to Roads
Bonfires that are too close to public roads can be deemed illegal if the smoke from the fire obscures the vision of drivers, creating a safety hazard.
Health and Safety
Bonfires that pose a risk to public health and safety can be forcibly extinguished by the fire department, and you may be liable for the costs involved in the intervention.
Fire Service Act
Some regions have fire safety laws that require permits or approval from the local fire service before you can have a bonfire.
Image by Nadine Slawik from Pixabay
For large gatherings, it's highly recommended to hire professionals who are well-versed in safety regulations and have appropriate insurance coverage.
If you're setting off fireworks yourself, always read the safety guidelines on the packaging, maintain a safe distance, and never return to a firework that has been lit but failed to go off.
If you're lighting a bonfire, ensure it's at a safe distance from buildings, trees, and other flammable materials. Never use flammable liquids to ignite it, and always keep a method of extinguishing it nearby.
Penalties and Fines
Failure to comply with firework laws can result in fines and even imprisonment. For example, illegally selling fireworks can result in up to 6 months in prison and a fine of up to £5,000.
Zego Insurance spokesperson says:
"Bonfire Night is a spectacular celebration that comes with its share of rules and responsibilities. By adhering to the regulations on the purchase, transport, and use of fireworks, you can ensure that the only sparks flying are those lighting up the night sky."