PART 1 ITEM NO.
(OPEN TO THE PUBLIC)
REPORT OF THE LEAD MEMBER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
TO THE CABINET
ON 30TH OCTOBER 2001
TITLE: FIREWORK SAFETY
RECOMMENDATIONS: THE APPROPRIATE ORGANISATIONS BE
BACKGROUND DOCUMENTS: (available for public inspection)
CONTACT OFFICER: D. HIGGINSON TEL NO: 793 2076
WARD(S) TO WHICH REPORT RELATE(S) ALL
KEY COUNCIL POLICIES : CRIME AND DISORDER
DETAILS (continued overleaf)
The Control of Fireworks is achieved by the Explosives Act 1875 and
subsequent legislation. The actual enforcement of the various provisions is
split between various agencies and varies in different parts of the country.
In Salford the enforcement agencies are:-
1. Greater Manchester Fire Service
This body is responsible for the registration of premises to store fireworks,
normally retail premises with quantities not exceeding 250kg being stored.
In addition there is a maximum quantity of 50kg which can be kept in a
room to which the public have access. At present there does not appear to
be any means of refusing registration. The only course of action is in
respect of not storing in accordance with statutory requirements. In most
parts of the country it is the Trading Standards Service who is responsible
for the registration of premises. It is only in the metropolitan districts where
the fire service undertakes this role.
2. Trading Standards
The service is responsible for ensuring that fireworks are not sold to
children apparently under the age of 18. In addition the service is
responsible for ensuring that certain categories and types of fireworks are
not sold to the general public. These include bangers, mini rockets, aerial
shells and maroons and category 4 fireworks. The service ensures that the
fireworks conform to the British Standard.
3. Greater Manchester Police
The problem of anti social behaviour such as the throwing or letting off of
fireworks in the street or public places is controlled by section 80 of the
Explosives Act 1875. The police enforce this provision of the Act. In
addition they enforce the prohibition of selling, handling or exposing for
sale fireworks in a public place or street.
4. Health and Safety Executive
The Health and Safety Executive are the body which controls the
manufacture and importation of explosives. In addition they classify them
into the various classifications. The Health and Safety Executives also
licence the large stores of explosives. In Salford this is with the assent of
the Fire Service.
There are currently a number of issues relating to fireworks.
a) The letting off of fireworks in public places can cause a nuisance
especially when the more powerful ones are involved. Although this is
a police matter it must be appreciated that it is very difficult to
apprehend children in the act of letting off the fireworks. It can also be
dangerous for a member of the public to try to restrain such children.
The police have a difficult problem in allocating resources and it is not
known where this problem rates in their priorities.
b) The sale of fireworks to underage children has been a problem for a
number of years and in an attempt to address this situation the Trading
Standards Service in Salford have in the past conducted programmes
of test purchases. This has been undertaken by asking children
obviously under 18 to try to purchase fireworks. This operation is very
closely controlled and in line with the appropriate Home Office
guidelines. There have been a number of occasions when fireworks
have been sold and the appropriate legal action taken. However this
year due to staffing level problems, due to staff leaving and the inability
to recruit a replacement Trading Standards Officer it will not be
possible to conduct such a survey. The Fire Service provides a list of
premises which have registered each year and all these sellers receive
a letter pointing out the legal requirements together with a trader
guidance leaflet. This pack has been sent out this year.
c) The Size of the Fireworks
Fireworks are categorised according to the risk they pose and their
size. This is done in accordance of the requirements set out in B.S.
i) CATEGORY 1
When used according to the instructions, these fireworks should
not cause injury to people standing 1 meter or more away and
should not cause damage to property. In the case of hand held
fireworks, the persons holding them should not be injured. This
type of firework is generally known as indoor fireworks, but
includes such items as party poppers, caps for toy guns,
throwndowns and sparklers.
ii) CATEGORY 2
When used according to the instructions, these fireworks should
not cause injury to people standing 5 meter or more away. In the
case of handheld sparklers etc person holding them should not
be injured by the dropping of hot slag or the ejection of sparks.
The fuse fitted to the firework should enable the person lighting
the firework to retire safely to a distance of at least 5 meters.
These fireworks are commonly known as garden fireworks and
include the general fireworks used including rockets, fountains
and roman candles.
iii) CATEGORY 3
When used according to the instructions these fireworks should
not cause injury to people standing 25 meters or more away.
People setting these fireworks off would be expected to wear
suitable protection. These fireworks are commonly known as
display fireworks and this causes some confusion with category
4 fireworks which should only be used by professionals in
iv) CATEGORY 4
These fireworks are not covered by BS7114 but are the larger
ones which fall outside category 3 and can include those types
which are prohibited from sale to the general public including
The actual physical size of the firework is not the factor in
categorising the item, it is the risk it presents. It is now becoming
more common for large number of roman candles to be included
in an outer case and could contain over one hundred individual
fireworks. The effect produced by this type of firework could
either be visual and or aerial, yet these fireworks are normally
It is known that criminal elements from Salford have had dealing
with an importer in the Bury area. It has been alleged that these
people have demanded payment by way of fireworks for
services rendered. Initially this was refused and a confrontation
arose which involved the Police, Heath and Safety Executive
and Trading Standards. This appears to have been resolved but
the means are as yet unknown.
Bury Trading Standards have been involved with this importer in
ensuring that no unsafe fireworks are sold. In 2000 they
sampled and had tested a number of different types of fireworks
all of which were found to be safe.
At present the Health & Safety Executives are currently reviewing the
explosives legislation. Drafts of the proposals have been received and
comments were made by this authority on 19th February 2001, to the Local
Government Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and also to the Local
Authorities Co Ordinating Body on Food and Trading Standards.
The main issues raised in the comments are:-
Future regulations need to be clearer on the suitability of fireworks stores
which are close to other buildings especially housing.
Any registration or licensing scheme should revert to local authorities in
the metropolitan areas. This will be consistent with other areas of the
country. There is also concern with the levels of inspection currently being
undertaken by the Fire Service. This authority currently inspects premises
on a risk rating scheme which would also apply to premises storing
There should be a strong reporting requirement between the Health and
Safety Executive and Local Authorities.
There should be planning requirements which would control the location of
The question of separation distances between stores and other property
need to be as stringent as possible.
Registration of private property should not be permitted. The regulations
regarding the sale from shops within residential properties should be more
In all cases a risk assessment should be carried out before storage of
fireworks is permitted.
There should be a more positive approach to the registration/licensing
system rather than the passive one which currently allows any applicant to
There should be a review of how fireworks are categorised and common
terminology should be used.
The storage should be sufficient to safely and physical accept the
The handling of fireworks can be dangerous and so anybody permitted to
store fireworks should have the skills and expertise. It should be a
condition that adequate training has been received before storage is
There should be a means of logging in and out of fireworks. This type of
inventory would assist where fireworks are being used improperly or
outside the conditions of the licence.
The regulations should clearly distinguish between the storage of fireworks
and the gathering together of fireworks for the assembly of displays etc,
which are more to do with manufacture and should therefore be subject to
much stricter controls.
That Health and Safety Executive be contacted to ascertain the progress
with the review and establish when the official consultation will take place.
Lobby local MP’s to press for changes in the legislation on the grounds of
i) Distress and nuisance caused
ii) Larger fireworks are now more common
iii) Consistency of enforcement
iv) Stricter controls of the storage of fireworks.