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Safety guidelines for fireworks displays

The majority of firework displays are well organised and occur without incident. Bonfires and fireworks events can be popular fundraising opportunities but have the potential to cause damage and serious injury.

If your school or charity is holding a bonfire event, you will need to ensure you follow safety guidelines, and minimise any potential risks to spectators and property.

Here are our safety guidelines for managing risk at firework events:

• A firework/ pyrotechnic contractor should be employed wherever possible who is a member of the British Pryrotechnists Association and has a proven safety record;

• check your insurance cover - before planning your event, speak to your insurance broker about your policy;

• the contractor setting up the display should have appropriate insurance. They should have a Public Liability Insurance, with a minimum of £1,000,000 limit of indemnity;

• the police, fire brigade and local authorities should be consulted at least fourteen days before the event takes place and all their recommendations have been complied with;

• the Firework Safety Code must be followed and all specific instructions given by the manufacturer of the fireworks should be complied with. Displays coordinated by the Policyholder should only contain fireworks in categories 1, 2 and 3. Category 4 fireworks may only be used by professional firework display operators;

• all fireworks must be supplied by a reputable manufacturer and should not be modified by the organiser or appointed firework contractor;

• an event risk assessment must be carried out by the organiser or appointed firework contractor;• the fireworks display and bonfires should be sited at least 100 metres from any buildings or vehicles and you should choose a location away from trees. Ensure there are no roads, railways, overhead cables, woodland, bracken or similar combustible materials in the immediate vicinity;

• spectators need to be kept at least 25 metres from the display/bonfire and the display area needs to be roped off;

• there needs to be at least 1 steward in attendance for every 250 spectators;

• every steward should have full instructions about their duties and suitable communications equipment (e.g. mobile phones, walkie-talkies). They need to know what to do and who to report to in the event of an incident;

• one member of the committee organising the display needs to be in direct charge of safety matters and not engaged in any other  duties or activities which would prevent them from exercising general supervision;

• smoking should not be allowed anywhere near the fireworks;

• no petrol or paraffin should be used for the purpose of lighting any bonfire;

• there needs to be an adequate drop zone for the fall-out of rockets and debris downwind of spectators of at least 50 metres;• any person igniting fireworks should retire to a safe distance immediately once the fuse is lit;• any person igniting fireworks should never return to fireworks which do not light first time (30 minutes should be allowed to elapse before approaching and carefully dousing with water);

• "shooting" fireworks such as rockets or roman candles should be placed inside a metal sided box of sufficient size to contain the device should it topple over;

• a full inspection of the site needs to be carried out 30 minutes after the end of the display by the organiser and/or contractor to ensure all fireworks are extinguished; and• the site needs to be inspected the next day in daylight to ensure no fireworks have been left.

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