Being safe with fireworks and bonfires
18 October 2023

Being safe with fireworks and bonfires

Being safe with fireworks and bonfires

The lure of a blazing bonfire and dazzling fireworks displays against the night sky is irresistible to the crowds that gather in gardens and fields across the country on Bonfire Night, and it’s a brilliant opportunity to create a time when your group can come together and enjoy the experience.

These events should be enjoyed by everyone and to help you plan your event, here’s some tips that we’ve put together to ensure your evening is a sparkling success!

Be prepared ..

As with any event, careful planning is crucial and setting up a safe and well-supported site ensures a good evening for all.

  • If you are hiring a professional firework display team, get written confirmation of their public liability insurance. Alternatively, use someone with previous public firework display experience.
  • Choose a site with numerous exits, which must be clearly lit and signposted. The car park should be well away from the display area.
  • Put one person in overall control of the event, including health and safety, and everyone else must be fully aware of their duties and reporting lines.
  • Have qualified first-aiders on site who can be reached by radio.
  • Recruit adult stewards for crowd control. There must be at least two plus one for every 250 spectators. They should be in hi-vis clothing.
  • The bonfire and firework launch sites must be far apart, and both must be completely clear of buildings, wooden fences and other hazards.
  • Use a rope or strong barrier to keep spectators at a safe distance from the display area.
  • Keep suitable firefighting equipment at both the bonfire and firework display area.
  • Take time to inform the local fire brigade police and ambulance services about your event.

Show time

Fireworks are breath taking but ensure that you have the necessary measures in place to minimise the risk to all ..

  • Only buy fireworks with the European standard “CE” mark, which proves they have been rigorously tested.
  • Do not allow spectators to bring their own fireworks.
  • Keep all fireworks in a metal box and only use them one at a time.
  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Only use official launching tubes for rockets and direct them away from spectators. 
  • Keep all naked flames, including cigarettes, away from the fireworks.
  • Never put fireworks on the bonfire!
  • Light fireworks at arm’s length using a long taper, and then stand well back.
  • Do not return to a firework once it has been lit or if it fails to ignite.
  • By law, firework displays must finish by 11pm (12pm on Bonfire Night, 1am at New Year)

Around the bonfire

The sight of giant flames licking the sky is entrancing, but should be relished responsibly:

  • Place an experienced adult in charge of the bonfire, with suitable deputy or support.
  • Ensure all children are supervised.
  • The fire should be a manageable size and carefully constructed so it is stable.
  • Do not put rubbish on the fire and do not use solvents to light it.
  • Check under the bonfire for pets and wildlife (especially hedgehogs!) before lighting.
  • Afterwards, pour water on the fire and ensure embers are fully extinguished before leaving.

When the smoke clears

After the big finale (and thunderous applause), it’s important to get everyone home safely and clear up carefully.

  • Be careful when you pick up used fireworks (spent or duds) and wear gloves and goggles. 
  • Fully exploded fireworks can be put in the bin if they are cold.
  • Leave all misfired or failed fireworks for 30 minutes before lifting and immersing in water.
  • Do not remove failed rockets or mines from mortar tubes. Fill the tubes with water overnight and empty them the next day.
  • Keep spectators away from the bonfire, firework display and fallout zone until cleared.

Further information

Further guidance is available from the government Health and Safety Executive and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Scout groups, districts and counties should also check the advice on the Scouts Fireworks Safety page and their video.

Insurance cover for Scout bonfire and firework display

Fireworks displays are often cancelled due to bad weather. So, perhaps consider an Event Cancellation & Abandonment policy to cover your investment, if your event has to be cancelled for reasons outside of your control or the cover any fundraising cash.

Our Insurance for Scout Bonfire and Firework Displays page may offer some help and our team of friendly experts are just a call away. We're all about ensuring your organisation is well protected.

So, if you ever have questions or need help with insurance, don't hesitate to reach out. Your peace of mind is our priority, and we promise we won't make it sound like rocket science.

When it comes to insurance, we've got your back – today and always!