Fireworks Legislation

Questions & Answers supplied by the British Fireworks Association

What are the new firework regulations?

The key features of the new regulations include:

  • The banning of air bombs and nuisance rockets
  • New, restricted selling periods (from 1 January 2005)
  • Proper accountability for firework importers
  • Possession of fireworks by under 18s illegal
  • 11pm to 7am curfew (Except New Year's Eve)
  • Maximum noise levels for fireworks.

When did they come into force?

The regulations are coming into force in a piecemeal way. It began with the anti-social orders that were in place before December 2004 , and some of the selling period restrictions which came into effect on 1 January 2005.

Who will 'police' them and are there potential problems with enforcement?

Enforcement agencies including the Police and Trading Standards officers will 'police' the new regulations. Some enforcement agencies are suggesting that certain areas may be difficult to enforce such as the 11.00pm curfew and possession by under 18s. The British Fireworks Association understands that it may be difficult in some circumstances, but many laws are difficult to enforce, but where there is a will there is a way. Let us hope there will be a positive approach to enforcement.

Why hasn't the firework industry called for changes to the law before now?

Until recently our main focus has been product safety - and that remains our number one priority. However, with the strict British standard regulations and safety campaigning by companies and the government, the severity of injuries has dropped. The recent upsurge in hooliganism with fireworks has led the industry to change focus and adopt a new approach.

What is the punishment for breaking the new regulations?

A maximum £5,000 fine or six months imprisonment.

Will this reduce accidents this year?

We hope so. Most firework related accidents are a result of careless use by under 18s, so the regulations should lead to a reduction.

Surely a total ban is the more appropriate action?

Millions of families enjoy fireworks each year with no problems. Their rights need to be upheld and not put into jeopardy by a hooligan minority. A total ban would result in millions of untested fireworks being sold on the black market, which would inevitably lead to many more accidents.

What is the new noise limit equivalent to?

Noise comparisons are very difficult to make, so it is inappropriate to speculate. However, the new noise limit of 120 decibels is in line with the new European standard for noise. It is also worth pointing out that the vast majority of UK fireworks on sale this year are significantly below the new UK limit.

What is your top firework safety tip?

Only buy fireworks from a legitimate shop that you know and trust, and once you've bought your fireworks make sure you use common sense at all times.

How sure can you be that there won't be air bombs and mini rockets this year?

If there are any still in the supply chain the numbers will be extremely small and will soon disappear. No air bombs or mini rockets have been imported into the UK since June 2002.

Who will benefit from the regulations?

Virtually everyone except the hooligans. Old people and pet owners in particular will notice a huge difference.

Aren't family fireworks on the brink of dying out now?

Certainly not. Well over 100 million touch papers were lit last year and the British Fireworks Association is confident that so long as we continue to be vigilant and offer for sale safe and attractive fireworks, the tradition of November.

Further Information

The British Fireworks Association

Celebrating Bonfire Night - A community guide to organising bonfires and fireworks from the Department of Local Communities and Government