Fireworks and the UK Law - Avoiding Criminal Penalties and Personal Injury Claims

Fireworks and the UK Law - Avoiding Criminal Penalties and Personal Injury Claims

Thousands of people all across the UK are looking forward to celebrating Bonfire Night this week, and while many will attend large displays or host their own responsible event, many will endanger themselves and others by using fireworks irresponsibly - or illegally.


The law is in place to protect those using fireworks, and those around them, from very serious inju-ries. However, even with respect for these laws, accidents do occur. Today at Unlock the Law we look at the laws relating to fireworks, how to use fireworks responsibly and whether you can make a claim for being injured in a fireworks accident.

Law to Prevent Fireworks Accidents, UK

Most importantly, you may not buy category 2 or category 3 fireworks if you are under the age of 18. Category 2 and 3 does not include things such as party poppers. Fireworks carry a serious re-sponsibility and whilst many under the age of 18 may be responsible enough, the law protects eve-ryone else from those who would seek to use fireworks improperly.

It is illegal to set off fireworks between 11 pm and 7 am except on certain specified occasions, these are:

  • Bonfire Night, when the cut-off is midnight
  • New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is 1 am

Category 4 fireworks must only be used by professionals. Even if you can purchase such fire-works, it is incredibly dangerous to use them without proper training.

The law makes clear that you must not set off fireworks, or throw fireworks in the street or any oth-er public place. This includes sparklers.

When can I buy fireworks in the UK?

You may only buy fireworks from registered sellers for private use on certain dates - again this in-cludes sparklers. The dates where fireworks may be sold are:

  • 15 October to 10 November
  • 26 to 31 December
  • 3 days before Diwali and Chinese New Year

At any other time of the year, it is possible to buy fireworks but only from a licensed firework shop.

You can be fined up to £5,000 for selling fireworks illegally, and may also face a 6-month prison sentence. You may also be fined up to £90 on the spot for neglecting to respect firework laws.

What should I do if I see firework use that could cause an accident?

If you witness anyone using fireworks in the street or throwing fireworks in a public place, you should call 101 to report a crime that is not an emergency. This will allow you to give information to the police. You should also do this if you believe someone is selling fireworks illegally, especially to those underage.

What should I do if I am involved in a fireworks accident in the UK?

Fire Scotland have provided guidance on what you should do if you or anyone around you is involved in a fireworks accident:

  • Cool any burns with cold water for at least 10 minutes.
  • Cut around any material that is sticking to the skin - do not pull it off.
  • Do not touch any burns or burst any blisters.
  • Cover the burn with clean, non-fluffy material such as cling film, this will prevent infection.
  • Where clothing has caught fire, get the person to stop, drop to the floor and roll them in a heavy material such as thick curtains.
  • If the injury is serious, you should call an ambulance or attend your local accident and emer-gency department immediately. If burns are less serious, you should still seek advice from your doctor or hospital.

If you have been involved in a fireworks accident that wasn’t your fault, you may also be able to claim compensation for your injury. We have created a comprehensive guide to making a personal injury claim in the UK.

Related > Complete Guide to Making a Personal Injury Claim in the UK

Remember, remember - be safe this bonfire night.

More information

To find out more about firework and fire safety, get more information here:

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Health and Safety Executive

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