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Fireworks

Fireworks: legislation and guidance Woman firing a firework

The safe use of fireworks is an issue that crosses the boundaries of many areas of responsibility.  Medway Council wants everyone to enjoy fireworks in safety and legally.

Licensing

The council's Trading Standards Team is responsible for ensuring that anyone who stores fireworks is licensed.

A storage licence allows a trader to store and sell fireworks:

  • between 15 October and 10 November
  • between 26 December and 31 December
  • on the first day of the Chinese New Year and three days immediately preceding it
  • on Diwali and three days immediately preceding it.

Apply for a licence

For more information and to apply for a licence to store fireworks contact 01634 333 333.

The Firework Code

  • Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
  • Never give sparklers to a child under five years old
  • Buy fireworks marked BS 7114
  • Keep fireworks in a closed box
  • Follow the instructions on each firework
  • Light them at arm’s length, using a taper
  • Stand well back
  • Never go back to a lit firework
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket
  • Never throw fireworks
  • Keep pets indoors.

For advice on purchasing fireworks and having a safe display, please visit the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Organising a firework display

Anyone organising a firework display has many factors to take into consideration. They should contact the council's Trading Standards department, using the contact information at the foot of the page, for advice on how to run a successful, legal and safe display, as well as useful literature.

Bonfire Night (5 November) is always a busy time for all the authorities involved in firework safety, so please give plenty of warning. You should also contact the following organisations in advance:

Consumer information

Residents and visitors to Medway who are concerned about children and youths under 18 years old seen with fireworks in public places should contact Medway Police on: 101.

Please only call 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency. It is illegal for people aged under 18 years to obtain fireworks or have them in a public place or for anyone to have a Category 4 (for professional use only) firework in a public place.

An on-the-spot fine of £80 can be issued in either case. If fireworks are being let off near residential property that seem to be louder than 120 decibels, people should contact Trading Standards, whose officers will follow up any complaint.

They will require information such as where the fireworks are being set off from, what kind of fireworks they are and if possible, where the fireworks were purchased.

Trading standards departments nationwide test fireworks regularly and aim to eradicate any fireworks above 120 decibels. Retail boxes of fireworks must not be split. All fireworks intended for use by the general public must comply with British Standard BS 7114 Part 2: 1988. This will be written on the packaging.

All fireworks not suitable (as determined by the regulations) for use by the general public should bear the warning- “This device must not be sold to, used by, a member of the general public.”

Keep all fireworks in a dry place. It is an offence to throw or discharge a firework in a street or public place: this can result in prosecution and fine of up to £5,000. Medway Council organises large free firework displays annually in November. Details appear in the local press and on our Enjoy Medway.

Fireworks Regulations 2004

These Firework regulations form a comprehensive package of measures to combat anti-social behaviour and the criminal use of fireworks by controlling their supply and use. The regulations:

make it an offence for people less than 18 years old to possess fireworks in public places and for anyone (other than a firework professional) to possess Category 4 (professional display) fireworks;

require all retailers of fireworks to register with the council's Trading Standards Team; restrict sales of fireworks without a licence to certain periods. These are:

  • 5 November (15 October to 10 November)
  • New Year (26 December to 31 December)
  • Chinese New Year (on the first day of the Chinese New Year and three days immediately preceding it)
  • Diwali (on the day of Diwali and three days immediately preceding it);

The regulations create a curfew on firework use between 11pm and 7am (in line with the Noise Act 1996) with the exception of the following nights, when the curfew will vary:

  • 5 November - midnight the following day
  • New Year's Eve - 1am on the following day
  • Chinese New Year - 1am on the following day
  • Diwali - 1am on the following day; require suppliers of fireworks to the public to display a notice in a prominent position, stating that it is illegal to sell fireworks to anyone under 18 and for anyone under 18 to possess fireworks in a public place;

The regulations require that importers supply information at the point of entry (the ports) to help ensure that their fireworks are destined for legitimate storage and distribution.

This information will be passed on to the authority responsible for storage licences to enable it to make checks on deliveries and impose a limit of 120 decibels on Category 3 fireworks in line with European Standard BS EN 14035.

Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005

Please visit the Office of Public Service Information website for more details.

Other useful links