BONFIRE night is here and many of us will be setting off fireworks at home – but light them at the wrong time and you could be faced with a £5,000 fine or jail.
If you want to set off fireworks on your property, make sure you know the rules so you can avoid getting in trouble.
You can only buy “adult” fireworks if you’re over 18, and they can only be bought from registered sellers on selected dates.
Fireworks are assigned different categories depending on their intended purpose, ranging from category F1 to F4 – you can usually find these categories printed on the packaging.
F1 fireworks are considered indoor fireworks and can be bought by anyone over the age of 16 – this includes sparklers and party poppers.
Fireworks in the F2 and F3 categories are intended for garden and display use respectively, and can only be bought by people over 18.
F4 fireworks are professional fireworks that can only be used by specialist companies.
When can I buy fireworks?
Registered sellers – such as supermarkets – can sell fireworks between October 15 and November 10, and again between December 26 and December 31.
They can also sell fireworks up to three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year.
Since the dates for the festivals of Diwali and Chinese New Year vary each year, the dates that fireworks can be sold adjust to suit this.
Outside these dates, you can only buy fireworks from specialist firework shops.
How to let off fireworks safely
THE London Fire Brigade has the following advice on letting off fireworks safely:
- Only buy fireworks which carry the CE mark, keep them in a closed box and use them one at a time
- Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
- Light the firework at arm’s length with a taper (a long stick that’s often included in the box with fireworks) and stand well back
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
- Never return to a firework once it has been lit
- Don’t put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
- Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
- Always keep a bucket of water or a hosepipe nearby in case of emergency
What time can I set off fireworks?
On Bonfire Night, November 5, you can set off fireworks until midnight.
And, on New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year fireworks are allowed up until 1am.
Outside of these dates, you cannot set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am.
You can be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to six months for selling or using fireworks illegally.
You could also get an on-the-spot fine of £90 if you’re caught setting off fireworks at the wrong time.
Where can I use fireworks?
It is illegal to set off or throw fireworks in public places such as the street or parks – this includes sparklers.
Be mindful that it is also an offence to cast or light any fireworks from a private property into a public place such as a street or park.
The same penalties apply – a £90 on-the-spot fine, a maximum £5,000 fine or imprisonment.
If you believe somebody is letting fireworks off outside permitted times or in the street, you should the police on 101, or 999 if there is an emergency.
How to minimise the impact of fireworks on your neighours
ENVIRONMENTAL Protection UK has the following advice about home firework displays:
- Tell your neighbours – and if a neighbour complains that you are disturbing them be considerate
- Use appropriate fireworks – when buying fireworks, try to avoid noisy ones in sensitive locations
- Make sure pets and other animals are safely away from fireworks
- Complete your firework display within the permitted times
- Avoid letting off fireworks in unsuitable weather
- Let off your fireworks in an open garden area – noise bounces off buildings and smoke and pollution can build up in enclosed spaces
Can I let off fireworks on my rented property?
Tenancy agreements often prohibit bonfires or fireworks, so check your agreement or ask your landlord if you are unsure.
It is legal for a landlord to ban the use of fireworks in a tenancy agreement.
Your agreement may also state that you must not engage in antisocial behaviour or cause noise pollution, which may include letting off fireworks.
It is, therefore, a good idea to check with your landlord and neighbours if you plan to hold a fireworks display.
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There have been calls to ban fireworks sales because of the stress they cause to wild and domestic animals.
Stores like Tesco and Asda are selling budget fireworks for the big night.
And, Sainsbury’s has refused to sell fireworks altogether this year.