Fireworks are fun and exciting but remember they are explosives! They should be treated with care, but don’t let that put you off using them. If handled correctly you probably have more chance of hurting yourself falling down the stairs!
There are three types of firework available to the public:
Category F1 – Indoor / Close Proximity Fireworks
Category F2 – Garden Fireworks
Category F3 – Larger Garden / Display Fireworks
Here we will be discussing Category (Cat) F2 & F3 Fireworks
Cat F2 & F3 Fireworks are essentially the same, however, Cat F2 Fireworks are suitable to use in smaller gardens and carry a minimum safety distance of 8 metres. Cat F3 Fireworks are generally larger and you need a minimum 25 metre safety distance to use these, however, we suggest even more for larger Cat F3 items, not just on safety grounds, but if you stand too close to larger fireworks you just can’t appreciate them as much.
Organising your display
Early preparation is important
You should nominate one person to be in charge of the fireworks and lighting, if you are having a larger display then you should set up a committee and assign the various jobs to individuals well in advance. Make sure your firing site can accommodate the type of fireworks you want to fire, you will need more space than you think, take a look at our example firing site below, it will give you an idea of the space you require.
Make sure that you read the instructions on ALL your fireworks, different fireworks behave differently and need to be set up and secured in various ways. In recent years newer ‘fan style’ cakes have been introduced and you should take extra care to ensure that the correct side of the firework is facing the audience. Cakes / barrages, candles, mines and fountains should all be buried in soft earth, or alternatively you can attach them to wooden stakes buried into the ground, when doing this make sure that the stake is nearest the audience and attach the firework with strong cloth tape (gaffa tape, not sellotape) or thick cable ties, by making sure that the firework is behind the stake, you minimise the risk of the firework falling over and facing the crowd. For large cakes use a couple of stakes. Remember to angle your fireworks whether they are buried or staked away from the audience. If it’s raining you can use plastic bags or bin liners to keep your fireworks dry.
Rockets should only be launched from suitable tubes, if you require more you can make your own from plumbing pipe, but always ensure that the stick of the rocket can rise freely from the pipe, if it gets stuck in the pipe the rocket will explode at ground level, something we don’t want. People think that the stick is just there to support the rocket before lift off, but its an important part of the firework ensuring that the head of the rocket stays stable on its upward flight, so if you have a rocket with a broken stick, don’t be tempted to fire it, it won’t work properly. Remember, rockets always travel into the wind so you should take this into account when setting up your display, you should also angle your rockets away from the audience and ensure there is no overhead obstruction such as trees or powerlines
On the night
Make sure you're prepared
Always wear protective clothing, goggles, hard hat and gloves are a must, for extra protection you might want to invest in probhan (fire retardant) overalls, these can be obtained from many outlets for as little as £15-£20. If you are lighting your fireworks one at a time, keep your fireworks in a closed, fireproof container and take them out as you need them, DON’T PUT FIREWORKS IN YOUR POCKETS leaving them in the open could mean sparks from lit fireworks igniting them. You should make sure that no one can wander into the firing area, use rope or another type of barrier if you have to. Designate someone as a marshall if you haven’t already to keep an eye on your audience. Make sure you have a torch to read the instructions on the fireworks again. NEVER read the instructions with a naked flame! Fire extinguishers, buckets of sand or water should be available. When lighting your fireworks only use a portfire or other safety lighter attached to a stick to distance you from the firework, you should never use lighters or matches, always light the firework at arms length. Once lit, retire to a safe distance. NEVER RETURN TO A LIT FIREWORK, EVEN IF YOU THINK ITS NOT LIT.
Fall out area
You should have an adequate fall out area of 30-50 metres.
Place smaller items at the front of this area and larger cakes and rockets towards the back. Remember to angle all fireworks towards the fall out area.
Minimum 25 metres more if space allows. Ideally 50 metres.
Lets Recap, Safety Rules…remember, be safe and have fun!
Unpack the fireworks in a safe place away from open fires and easily inflammable material
Make sure that the fireworks are all separated from the packing material
Always light fireworks with a portfire attached to a stick held at arms length
Remember that fireworks are fragile
When out of doors, the firework box should be covered with a tarpaulin or other spark proof material as a spark could ignite the whole contents
Never walk or lean across the top of any firework. Treat them as you would a loaded gun muzzle
Always soak un ignited fireworks in water for 24 hours before disposal
Never smoke when handling fireworks
When firing a display always wear protective overalls, goggles, hard hat and gloves. Beware of hot effects falling into gaping pockets, wellington boots etc.
Never put used or unused fireworks on to a bonfire
Make sure rockets are free to rise from their tubes. Rockets will always fly in to the wind, so take this into consideration. If it's very windy, DON'T FIRE THEM
Check any cakes with angles are facing the audience correctly. You don't want your firework firing over their heads.
Types of fireworks
Consist of a motor (lift charge) and explosive head. Come in various shapes, sizes and colours and explode with various effects. Should be launched from a rocket launching tube angled slightly away from the spectators and any obstructions. Make sure the rocket is free to rise.
Omit showers of sparks, crackles and whistles, upwards to then cascade back down like a fountain. A better fountain effect can be obtained if secured off the ground, for example on a board between two ladders.
There are two types of mine. A mortar mine and ground / jack mine. A mortar mine just contains a huge, powerfull erruption. Ground Mines or Jack Mines as they are sometimes known, usually start with a small fountain or whistle effect before ejecting their stars. Both should be treated with the upmost respect and burried or secured to a stake.
Usually made from gerbs (small fountains) attached to a round or flat timber frame, these should be securely attached to a post using a nail (the higher the better) ensuring that the wheel can spin freely. Once ignited they omit showers of sparks and sometimes whistles, the force from the sparks ‘spinning’ the wheel round.
Eject various effects from either single tubes (candles) or multiple tubes fused together (candle bundles). Should be buried to 2/3rds depth or attached to a wooden stake to ensure they can’t fall over.
Made up of single shot roman candles all connected and fused together to make one "Cake" They can contain anything from a few shots to several hundred and fire straight up, fanned, Z-fire, W-Fire or a mixture of shapes (SIB Single Ignition) Care should be taken with fanned effects to make sure the cake is facing the audience correctly. Cakes should be secured with wooden stakes as they are often too big to be burried.