Fireworks are fun and exciting but remember they are explosives! and 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 several types of firework and we have listed a glossary of these further down the page.
There are three types of firework available to the public. Category 1 - Indoor Fireworks. Category 2 - Garden Fireworks. Category 3 - Larger Garden / Display Fireworks. Here we will be discussing Category (Cat) 2 & 3 Fireworks.
Cat 2 & 3 Fireworks are essentially the same, however, Cat 2 Fireworks are suitable to use in smaller gardens and carry a minimum safety distance of 5 meters. Cat 3 Fireworks are generally larger and you need a minimum 25 meter safety distance to use these, however, we suggest even more for larger Cat 3 items, not just on safety grounds, but if you stand too close to larger fireworks you 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 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 buried or staked away from the audience. If its raining you can use plastic bags or bin liners to keep your fireworks dry.
Fountains sometimes come in the shape of a cone, making it hard to attach them to something, if you have this type of fountain place it on a board or flat surface such as paving slab, just placing it on earth or grass will make the firework unstable and increase the risk of it falling over.
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 wont 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.
If you are having a bonfire they should be a safe distance down wind of the firework area and must be supervised at all times. Never use inflammables such as petrol or paraffin to start the fire and under no circumstances dispose of used or unused fireworks on the bonfire.
On The Night
Always wear protective clothing, goggles, 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 £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, DONT PUT FIREWORKS IN YOUR POCKETS leaving them in the open could mean sparks from lit fireworks ignighting them. You should make sure that no one can wander into the safety 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.
Lets Recap, Safety Rules
- Never smoke when handling fireworks
- 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
- Remember that fireworks are fragile
- Always keep fireworks covered
- 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
- Always light fireworks with a portfire attached to a stick held at arms length
- When firing a display always wear protective overalls, goggles, hat and gloves. Beware of hot effects falling into gaping pockets, wellington boots etc.
- 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 put used or unused fireworks on to a bonfire
Remember, be safe and have fun!
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.
Mines are, in effect, shells bursting from the ground rather than the air. They are propelled by means of of a lifting charge which projects it out of a heavy paper mortar tube. It is very important to follow the instructions provided and never position any part of the body over a loaded mortar tube.
Ground Mines do not require a separate mortar, they are supplied preloaded and when lit start with a small fountain before bursting into colour.
ROMAN CANDLES / CAKES
Eject various effects from either single tubes (candles) or multiple tubes fused together (cakes). Should be buried to 2/3rds depth or staked to ensure they don't fall over.
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.
These are used to ignite the fireworks.