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.
This year, we are joining with other councils, the NHS, police, fire service and other bodies, to, where possible, encourage people to attend public, organised firework events.
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 1am
- 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:
- Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable, and ensure it finishes before 11pm subject to the exemption dates listed above
- Only buy fireworks which carry the CE mark, keep them in a closed box and use them one at a time
- Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
- Light the firework at arm's length with a taper and stand well back
- Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
- Never return to a firework once it has been lit
- Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
- Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
- Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
- 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
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 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.
Fireworks 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 https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/general/fireworks
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 noise nuisance, please do so via the online form - Report a noise nuisance.
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 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.