This information, if followed, will help to ensure that your Beacon event will be conducted in the safest possible manner.
- The first step is to carry out a risk assessment of your event. Make sure that this is written down, noting action points and controls to minimise risk of accidents.
- Before setting up your event, make sure you have informed your local Fire Brigade, Police and First Aid association.
- One person should be appointed, who is in overall control of the event, with final responsibility for all health and safety matters.
- The site chosen should have as many entrances and exits as possible, which should be well lit and clearly signposted.
- Make sure individuals are made fully aware of their duties reporting/ referral lines
- Keep spectators at a safe distance. A rope or strong barrier should be used to clearly mark off the display area.
- Keep well clear of buildings, trees and other hazards.
- To ensure proper crowd control, you should arrange for stewards to be present. There must be one steward for every 250 spectators and a minimum of two. Stewards should be easily recognisable to spectators.
- Suitable fire fighting equipment must be available.
- Qualified first aiders should be patrolling the site with regular contact with the person in charge of the event. The use of 2-way radios makes this process much quicker and saves time in an emergency.
- Appropriate safety clothing, headgear, gloves and goggles are to be worn by persons responsible for lighting any beacon, bonfire or fireworks.
Beacons and Bonfires
- The beacon or bonfire must be sited a safe distance from spectators, and well away from any firework firing area, other entertainment or stalls. Use a rope or strong barrier to clearly mark out this area..
- The bonfire or beacon should be stable and a manageable size.
- What is used to light or keep your beacon or bonfire burning will have major impact on the safety of your beacon event. Paraffin, petrol or solvents should never be used to start a fire and dangerous rubbish such as aerosols should never be burnt.
- Check the bonfire for pets and wildlife, especially hedgehogs, before lighting it.
- Water should be poured on embers and the site should not be left until the fire is completely out.
- Try to recruit at least one person with previous firework experience.
- Preferably independent firework display organisers, operators or contractors should be used. If so written confirmation should be obtained that they have public liability insurance in place and that the contractor complies with all regulations and advice from the appropriate bodies.
- All fireworks used should be compliant with British Safety Standards.
- Car parking areas should be sited well away from the display area and dropping zone.
- Do not allow spectators to enter the site with their own fireworks.
- Fireworks should be kept in a metal container and removed one at a time before replacing the lid. Fireworks which fail to ignite should never be returned to.
- Fireworks should only be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Fire fighting equipment should be stowed nearby.
- Spent or failed fireworks should be soaked in a container of water and manufacturer consulted about disposal.
- Fireworks must not be put on bonfires.
- If a display intends using Category 4 fireworks those running the display must be fully competent to do so. This competence should be demonstrated through appropriate training and experience or use of professional firers.
Further information can be acquired through:
Health and Safety Executive - www.hse.gov.uk/explosives/fireworks/using.htm
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents - www.saferfireworks.com
Fire Service - www.fireservice.co.uk/safety/bonfires
Department of Business, Innovation and Skill - www.dti.gov.uk/fireworks
Publications that are available are:
HSE - Health and Safety Executive produces two books called 'Giving your own firework display' and 'Working together on firework displays'.
The first being for most displays, the second being for displays which include: category 4 fireworks, aerial shells and maroons, shells-in-mortar and maroons-in-mortar, bangers including batteries containing bangers and Chinese crackers, fireworks with erratic flight and mini rockets.
They can be ordered from HSE Publications - 01787 881165 or downloaded on the HSE website. HSE have a Health & Safety Info line - 0845 345 0055. The HSE and RoSPA guidelines must be adhered too