Fireworks and bonfire safety

Fireworks and bonfire safety advice

Firework displays, whether private or public, should be enjoyable occasions. We want you to Celebrate Safely and if organisers take the necessary precautions, they should also be safe occasions.

It's down to us

This year, we are joining with other councils, the NHS, police, fire service and other bodies, and urging people to ‘celebrate differently’ and find alternative ways of marking autumnal events (eg. virtual events) and to follow the latest rules and advice around Covid-19.

Where possible, we encourage people to attend public, organised firework events; however, the national lockdown from 5 November 2020 and impact of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has meant a number of organised firework events will not be going ahead as planned.

If you are an event organiser there is more information for you below - in the Event Organisers section.

In line with advice of Leicestershire Fire Service, we would strongly advise the public against having fireworks in your garden.

However, if you do, it is important that you consider neighbours regarding the noise that fireworks can cause.

Under the Firework Regulations 2004 (enforced by Trading Standards), the use of fireworks at night (11pm – 7am) is prohibited except for extensions on these dates:

  • New Year’s Eve – until 1am
  • On the night of Chinese New Year – until 1am
  • On the night of Diwali – until 01am
  • 5th November – until midnight

Remember, it is illegal to buy ‘adult’ fireworks if you’re under 18. Adult fireworks are category 2 and 3 fireworks - they do not include things like party poppers.

To ensure that you enjoy your firework displays safely, please follow the Firework Code below:

Firework Code

  1. Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable, and ensure it finishes before 11pm
  2. Only buy fireworks which carry the CE mark, keep them in a closed box and use them one at a time
  3. Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
  4. Light the firework at arm's length with a taper and stand well back
  5. Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
  6. Never return to a firework once it has been lit
  7. Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
  8. Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
  9. Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
  10. Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving

Things to Consider 

  • We would reiterate that we would strongly advise against the private use of fireworks
  • If planning to use fireworks in your garden, give neighbours a few days’ notice of your display – particularly important if they are elderly, have children, or pets
  • Use appropriate fireworks – when buying fireworks; try to avoid noisy ones. Your supplier should be able to tell you what they are selling
  • Make sure pets and other animals are safely away from fireworks
  • Consider timing. If you are using fireworks for a celebration, a Friday or Saturday is preferable (remember, it is illegal to use fireworks after 11pm - subject to the exemptions above)
  • Avoid letting off fireworks in unsuitable weather - eg. very windy conditions.
  • Let off your fireworks in open garden areas – noise bounces off buildings and smoke and pollution build up in enclosed spaces
  • After your display, clear up firework debris and dispose of it safely
  • We would urge people not to release sky lanterns 

Council motion

In November 2019, Harborough District Council passed a motion relating to the use of fireworks

This motion resolved to:

  • strongly encourage those organisers of public firework displays within the Harborough District Council boundary to use the approved Leicestershire Events Toolkit and to advertise in advance of the event, allowing residents to take precautions for their animals and vulnerable people
  • actively promote a public awareness campaign about the impact of fireworks on animal welfare and vulnerable people – including the precautions that can be taken to mitigate risks
  • write to the UK Government urging them to introduce legislation to limit the maximum noise level of fireworks to 90dB for those sold to the public for private displays
  • encourage local suppliers of fireworks to stock ‘quieter’ fireworks

Event Organisers 

If you are an event organiser and you are planning on holding a firework event, it is important that you submit an Event Notification Form and Covid-19 Questionnaire which can be found in our Event Toolkit at www.harborough.gov.uk/event-toolkit

Upon submission, the Event Notification Form and Covid-19 questionnaire will be shared with an Event Safety Group to consider the safety of the event. Should they have any concerns, they will raise this with the organiser and hold a Safety Advisory Group (SAG) meeting to discuss any concerns.

Animals

DogFireworks can be distressing to animals, both domestic and livestock. Not only can fireworks cause psychological distress to animals, they can also lead to serious injuries as they attempt to hide or run from the noise.

  • Farm animals are easily frightened by loud noises and sudden flashes of bright light, which can startle and cause them to injure themselves on fencing and farm equipment.
  • Wildlife, like hedgehogs, are also at risk of being burnt alive after making their homes in bonfires
  • Fireworks are also highly disturbing to some birds and have caused abandonment of nests or even whole colonies

Information on how you can protect your pet can be found on the RSPCA’s ‘Bang Out of Order’ campaign on their website at www.rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/fireworks

Read more here – Blue Cross for Pets

Nuisance

You can report instances of Anti-Social Behaviour (including misuse of fireworks) on our website at www.harborough.gov.uk/info/20023/nuisance_and_anti-social_behaviour/93/anti-social_behaviour or by calling Leicestershire Police on 101.

To report fireworks as a nuisance, you can submit a nuisance report form on our website at www.harborough.gov.uk/nuisance#noise

However, due to the ‘one-off’ nature of fireworks, it is difficult to deal with them as a statutory nuisance; for something to be a nuisance, it usually has to be a continuous and ongoing issue.

Bonfires

Bonfire

Bonfires are permitted in gardens, and garden waste can be burnt as long as smoke nuisance is not caused to neighbours. Read the Council's code of practice on having a garden bonfire.

However, caution is advised and, as mentioned above, wildlife, like hedgehogs, can be at risk of harm if they make their homes in prepared bonfires.

Bonfires can also produce ash which can cause a risk to nearby properties if not properly managed – especially thatched roof properties.

Choose a suitable area for a bonfire, such as a large, clear and well-mown area free from obstructions, well away from any buildings, wooden fences, trees and hazards like overhead cables, with as many safe entrances and exits as possible.

Ensure you have buckets of water / sand close by.

Read Bonfire Safety Advice here

Public firework events – 2020

The Drive In Fireworks due to take place at Market Harborough Showground, Gallow Field Road, on 7 November has been CANCELLED

The Drive in Fireworks due to take place at The Gliding Centre in Husbands Bosworth on 7 November have been CANCELLED

Disclaimer: please note that the above events are not organised by Harborough District Council and the respective event organisers are responsible for ensuring public safety.