General Information

New Guides for Firework Displays

 New Guides for Firework Displays

New Guides for Firework Displays

Lords Amendments to the Policing and Crime Bill

Paragraph 114 on page 28 regarding possession of pyrotechnic articles at music events

The page and line references are to HL Bill 55, the bill as first printed for the Lords:

Insert the following new Clause—
“Possession of pyrotechnic articles at musical events
(1) It is an offence for a person to have a pyrotechnic article in his or her
possession at any time when the person is—
(a) at a place where a qualifying musical event is being held, or
(b) at any other place that is being used by a person responsible for the
organisation of a qualifying musical event for the purpose of—
(i) regulating entry to, or departure from, the event, or
(ii) providing sleeping or other facilities for those attending the
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply—
(a) to a person who is responsible for the organisation of the event, or
(b) to a person who has the article in his or her possession with the
consent of a person responsible for the organisation of the event.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary
conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks (or, in
relation to offences committed before section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice
Act 2003 comes into force, 3 months), or to a fine not exceeding level 3 on
the standard scale, or to both.
(4) In this section, “pyrotechnic article” means an article that contains
explosive substances, or an explosive mixture of substances, designed to
produce heat, light, sound, gas or smoke, or a combination of such effects,
through self-sustained exothermic chemical reactions, other than—
(a) a match, or
(b) an article specified, or of a description specified, in regulations
made by statutory instrument by the Secretary of State.
(5) In this section, “qualifying musical event” means an event at which one or
more live musical performances take place and which is specified, or of a
description specified, in regulations made by statutory instrument by the
Secretary of State.
(6) A statutory instrument containing regulations under this section is subject
to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.”

Legislative Developments

Legislative Developments 131216

Implementing SCEPYLT ( Electronic systems for approvals of explosives transfers)

UK Implementation of SCEPYLT (Electronic system for approvals of explosives transfers)

From 1 October 2016

For further details please click here: UK Implementation of SCEPYLT (Electronic system for approvals of explosives transfers) – 1 October 2016


Presentation on Mortars given by Dr Tom Smiths


Information on Mortars

The BPA are aware of very varied practices in the way fireworks, and particularly mortars for shells, are rigged by companies in the UK (and indeed around the World).

The BPA made the decision when developing its training courses NOT to dictate the way mortars or mortar racks should be designed, constructed or rigged, instead relying on the expertise and customs developed by companies themselves alongside suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks involved (including how the mortars or racks would be supported on various surfaces).

However recent incidents and enquiries from members of the BPA have encouraged us to reiterate some general principles which we hope you will find helpful.

  1. Mortars should be constructed from materials that will be strong enough to contain the lifting charge of shells
  2. They should be designed in such a way that if a shell bursting charge explodes while the shell is within the mortar that the effects are contained, or that the risk from fragmentation is low
  3. Mortars should be regularly checked to ensure that the structural integrity is maintained and that they remain fit for purpose
  4. Single mortars should be erected on site in such a way that failure of one does not affect adjacent mortars and that any failure is “fail safe” such that fragments are contained or prevented from reaching persons (operators or audience) and that mortars cannot fall towards the audience or other vulnerable areas of the display site
  5. Where mortars are arranged in racks these should be constructed in such a way that the failure of a single mortar does not cause adjacent mortars to be disrupted
  6. Racks should be supported in such a way that they remain upright (or at the desired angle) when firing and that disruption of a mortar within the rack, or adjacent to the rack, does not lead to mortars being disrupted and potentially firing towards the audience or other vulnerable areas of the site
  7. Fusing of shells to be fired from racks should be done in such a way as to minimise the risks of one shell disrupting adjacent mortars and a subsequent mortar discharging at an undesirable angle.

After recent incidents we believe that the investigating authorities will in the future ask the following questions, and you should ensure that you can provide the necessary answers:-

  1. What risk assessments were carried out as to the design, construction, rigging and firing of shells and what mitigatory measures (if any) had been identified to ensure that the risks were as low as reasonably practical (or less)
  2. In the case of mortars and racks – what tests or evidence from suppliers was obtained to ensure that the risk of failure was low
  3. What quality assurances had been done on shells to be fired from the mortars – in order to minimise (or at least quantify) the risk of catastrophic failure
  4. How were mortars and racks checked to ensure they were still “fit for purpose” and had this checking been documented for the mortars in question
  5. If there had been a change in techniques – rigging or firing – had the risks of the change been assessed
  6. How had operators on site rigged the shells – were they following company procedures
  7. What procedures were established (and documented) for various situations, and how had this information been given to operators (ie training)

Fireworks do fail – what is essential is that companies recognise this and take steps to ensure the consequences of any such failure and the rate of failure are low. Ultimately the Courts may decide that whatever you did to minimise risks was not enough – but we strongly believe that if you can demonstrate a very clear understanding of the potential risks and have taken steps to minimise such risks – then the likelihood of a prosecution following an incident is reduced, and the consequences of a successful prosecution (eg the fine or prison sentence) are also reduced.

Fireworks e-petition debate – BPA Position

  • Although the petition addressed consumer items there is concern about the debate extending discussion to all use of fireworks.  We have obvious sympathies with those affected but do not believe restrictions on use are merited, justified or would really be enforceable
  • The key to managing consumer or public firework displays and their effect on people/animals etc is education and information – education in terms of what is appropriate to use where (and when) and then informing those who might be affected so that they can take any necessary measures
  • The industry is happy to work with Govt. and others to promote this and to develop and distribute guidance where appropriate.
  • Consumer displays are watched by approx. 12 million people, professional displays by a similar amount (but there is obvious overlap).  The pleasure, financial benefit (to organisations, charities and others, as well as those in the trade) etc is obvious.  The number of complaints is very small and the safety record of the UK is probably the best in Europe
  • The noise limits already imposed are quite strict, but are realistic.  The RSPCA’s call for 95dB is unjustified and has little scientific backing – 95dB is roughly the sound level made by dropping a heavy book on a table as witnessed 1m away
  • UK Industry through the BPA has worked tirelessly with HSE and BIS to promote the safe and appropriate use of fireworks.  They have also been at the forefront of developing new European Standards, producing guidance and establishing a qualification which is endorsed by City & Guilds.  We are a responsible industry who take those responsibilities seriously
  • We fully support and encourage attempts to crack down on the illegal import or manufacture and use of fireworks

New BPA Chairman

At yesterday’s British Pyrotechnists Association (BPA) meeting Cliff Stonestreet was elected chairman of the Association for the next 2 years.

Cliff is a well known and long established member of the fireworks display community and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role.  In somewhat uncertain times, his experience within Europe will be particularly relevant.

Please update your contacts to reflect this change, but in general communication to the BPA should continue to come via the secretariat.

Thanks were made to Andy Hubble who is stepping down from the role.  Andy will continue to be part of the BPA Management Committee and will represent the BPA on various working groups.

Selling of Category 4 Fireworks – Information

We are often asked about the selling of Category 4 fireworks to organisations and individuals that have carried out  small displays using Cat3 fireworks and wish, they think, to progress to bigger and better things!

In most cases the distinction between a Category 3 and 4 display is quite clear.  If you feel your event has outgrown a Category 3 display then it is time to get in a professional company!

Category 4 fireworks are for use by persons with “Specialist Knowledge” and will require a company to have, in most cases;

  • Adequate legal storage for 365 days (in case some fireworks are not used and are returned to the store)
  • Adequate insurance for 365 days (as above)
  • The means to transport fireworks safely and legally (proper vehicles, trained drivers etc)
  • The means to be able to fuse fireworks to suit the display, and to have suitable classifications and packagings for those “new” items

as well as the technical knowledge and experience to determine appropriate “safety” distances that are applicable under the conditions of the display.

Category 4 fireworks are not simply “bigger” or “better” than Category 3 fireworks – they are often incomplete and require ancillary equipment, whereas Category 3 fireworks are supplied complete.  If used in accordance with the instructions it is perfectly possible to put on a safe, spectacular and extensive display using Category 3 fireworks – paying attention to the minimum safety distances prescribed, and by creative use of a variety of firework types to provide a flowing display with highs and lows and with a suitable finale.  Your supplier will be able to provide assistance, or we recommend that you consult the following book by Dr Tom Smith:–

Firework Displays: Explosive Entertainment – A guide to getting the most from your firework display for designers, firers and event organisers.  See for more details.

We recommend that you use a BPA member to arrange and fire your professional display – details of all members are available on the website.


Authorisation No 307

PURPOSE To allow the carriage by road of firework lancework as unpackaged articles.

TIME LIMIT This authorisation is effective from 01 January 2015 and remains valid until 31 December 2019.