Remember, remember, firework laws this November
Posted: 30 October 2012
It’s almost November, and ‘tis the season for firing colourful explosives into the sky! Of course, buying a firework and turning it loose upon an innocent sky is not as simple as you might like.
Fireworks have a well-earned reputation for causing burns and removing fingers, but these aren’t their only dangers – fail to take proper care, and you could find yourself in trouble with the law. The law has some very specific rules about how and when you can let fireworks off, and these rules should never be forgot.
Here at Law on the Web, we don’t want our readers to get in trouble with the law. That’s essentially the opposite of what we’re aiming for. Read this week’s blog post and follow our advice for a safe and law-abiding firework display this November.
Fireworks are split into four different categories in the UK, according to how dangerous they are, where they should be used, and who can use them.
Categories 1-3 are intended for public purchase and usage. The categories are specifically formulated to tell the user how they should be used – Category 1 fireworks are most appropriate for indoor use, while Category 2s are meant for use in a garden and Category 3s for use in larger displays.
Fireworks in the remaining category, Category 4, are only available for purchase by professional fireworks companies, with the capacity to store and use them safely. No individual is allowed own them or obtain a licence to own them for personal use.
Certain types of fireworks, such as mortars and jumping jacks, are prohibited in the UK.
Who can buy them?
Purchase of fireworks is restricted to over 18s, and this restriction extends to sparklers as well. Under 18s are also forbidden to carry fireworks in public.
However, anyone over the age of 18 can buy fireworks that fall into one of the three public categories – there is no need for a licence of any sort to own or set off commercial fireworks.
If you do find a trader who is selling fireworks to people under 18, you should call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06.
Where to buy them (legally speaking)
Fireworks can be bought at licensed firework shops all year round, but more shops, such as supermarkets, can be licensed to sell them in the lead up to firework-associated events.
Traders who sell fireworks should take precautions to ensure that fireworks are displayed and stored safely – for example, they should avoid displaying fireworks next to anything that could cause them to ignite, such as matches. They should also put up clear ‘No Smoking’ signs and have fire extinguishers on hand nearby.
Fireworks are currently more widely available, as they can be sold at licensed retailers between October 15th and November 10th, in preparation for Bonfire Night. The restriction on sale of fireworks is also relaxed from 26th-31st of December and in the 3 days leading up to Diwali and Chinese New Year, so you will still be able to get fireworks more easily until the 13th of November.
When can I set them off?
Fireworks may not be as common outside the main firework-centred holidays and celebrations, but there aren’t actually any restrictions on what day you can set them off. If you wanted to put on your own firework display on a Sunday morning in the middle of June, there would be nothing to stop you.
However, there are restrictions on what time of the day you can let fireworks do their thing, with more lenient rules applying when fireworks are more appropriate.
On most days, fireworks cannot be released after 11pm, but this curfew is pushed back until midnight on November 5th. During Diwali, on November 13th, the restriction is pushed back further, to 1am. This 1am curfew also applies on New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year (occurring next on February 13th 2013).
Once the curfew has passed, fireworks cannot be let off until after 7am – this rule is constant throughout the year.
Fines and Punishments
Fooling about or not using fireworks properly can be punished harshly, especially when an infraction could put someone in danger. Serious offences can result in a £5,000 fine for the guilty party, as well as 3 months in jail.
Police also have the power to hit rule breakers with an £80 on-the-spot fine.
Above all, be careful, keep your pets safe, follow the instructions when setting fireworks off, and don’t pick up sparklers at the wrong end.
Happy Bonfire Night and Diwali from everyone at Law on the Web!