Hosting a Spectacular and Safe Bonfire Night Display

By Marsh

Posted 05/11/18

Bonfire night is a great time for the family to get together and enjoy the fireworks. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for sports clubs and pubs to host an organised display for their local community. It is vital that these events are safe for the general public.

To ensure that everyone has a good time, it’s also important to plan ahead. Here’s what you need to do before you can have your own bonfire and fireworks display.

1. Choose the right site.

You need to pick a site that’s large enough for your bonfire and fireworks display. Both of these elements need to have plenty of space around them so spectators can’t get too close or injured. There also needs to be enough space for fireworks to land safely. Your bonfire should be at least 25 metres clear of buildings, overhead cables, trees, and long grass.

Bear in mind that the ground your bonfire sits on is likely to become scorched so it’s best not to pick the middle of a football pitch!

2. Carry out a risk assessment

A thorough risk assessment will help you to identify potential hazards to employees, volunteers and members of the public attending the event. This will allow you to take the steps needed to combat the hazards and stay vigilant on the night.

Don’t forget to survey the site during the day too! Keep an eye out for overhead power lines and trees that could be at risk from fireworks. You should also tell your local authority, police and fire brigade that you’re hosting a display. If you’re near an airport you may also want to contact them.

3. Remember weather conditions

Another factor in choosing the right site is wind direction. Weather conditions on the night of your event could be drastically different to those during the day. Consider what would happen if the wind direction changed and how this would affect things like nearby roads or the position a firework lands.

4. Be prepared for accidents

Unfortunately even the most thorough planning can’t stop accidents from happening. Make sure you have adequate first aid facilities and clear access in case an ambulance or another emergency vehicle needs to get on site.

5. Spectator control

Spectator safety should be your number one priority and crowd control methods can go quite a way to help with this. Selling tickets can help you to estimate numbers and gated entries will ensure that your venue doesn’t reach capacity. Roughly one steward per 250 guests will ensure your event remains safe.

6. Be sensible with the bonfire

Never use an accelerant for your bonfire. It will quickly get out of hand and could become dangerous. Always make sure you have a supply of water nearby to douse any rogue flames.

7. Buy safe fireworks

Every firework you purchase should be marked “BS 7114”. This is the British Standard that all fireworks should meet and will ensure they are safe.

Similarly all your fireworks should be inspected prior to use and handled by designated members of staff or specialist contractors.

8. Consider hiring a professional

Anybody can light category one, two, or three fireworks. However you must hire professionals if you want to use category four fireworks. To ensure your display is a success though, consider using a professional to light all the fireworks.

If you hire any professional firework display organisers it is important that they are a member of the British Pyrotechnists Association. They should also have the right insurance in place including public liability with a minimum or £1 million indemnity.

9. Consult your insurance policy

Not all insurance providers will cover bonfires or fireworks displays. You may have specific restrictions or warranties relating to the event so make sure you understand and comply with these before you begin planning.

10. After your event

The day after your fireworks display be sure to check the space to ensure it is left as clear and safe as possible. Be sure to dispose of any fireworks carefully, and when it is safe to do so, carefully remove any debris from the fire.

For more information

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) fireworks website – – has further useful information about planning a safe fireworks display. It provides details on UK law, tips for setting up a display, and the firework code.

You may also wish to visit the Health and Safety Executive website – – which provides a range of publications that are designed to promote excellence in health and safety management and performance.

Posted 05/11/18

Author: Marsh

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