|ADVICE FOR PUBLIC FIREWORK DISPLAYS
Organising firework displays
If you are planning a firework display that will be open to the public there are many diffrent factors that you must consider. Manchester fireworks has had many years of experience providing firework displays for the public and can cover any type of event in the north west for more information and prices please look at our firework displays page.
If however you want to plan the display and set off the fireworks yourselves here are some tips to help you plan the perfect fireworks display.
Firework displays should be enjoyable and spectacular occasions – but they obviously need some responsible planning with firework safety being at the forefront of any plans. The good news is that there is straightforward guidance to help you.
If you are organising a major public event, you will clearly need a robust and detailed approach to planning as well as professional involvement. If you are holding a local firework display, such as those organised by many sports clubs, schools or parish councils, you still need to plan responsibly, but the same level of detail is not necessary or expected. Below are some tips and guidance to help you.
Before the event
Think about who will operate the display. There is no reason why you should not light a display yourselves provided it only contains fireworks in categories 1, 2 and 3. but remember, catergory 4 fireworks may only be used by professional firework display operators. In untrained hands they can be lethal.
Consider whether the site is suitable and large enough for your display, including a bonfire if you are having one. Is there space for the fireworks to land well away from spectators? Remember to check in daylight for overhead power lines and other obstructions. What is the direction of the prevailing wind? What would happen if it changed?
Think about what you would do if things go wrong. Make sure there is someone who will be responsible for calling the emergency services
Make sure you obtain the fireworks from a reputable supplier such as Manchester Fireworks
If the display is to be provided by a professional firework display operator make sure that you are clear on who does what especially in the event of an emergency
Ensure you have a suitable place to store the fireworks. Your firework supplier or local authority should be able to advise
If you plan on selling alcohol the bar should be well away from the display site
Who to contact about your firework display
Contact the following organisations well in advance to let them know your plans for the firework display
the local fire and rescue service
first aid organisations, like the St John Ambulance, to arrange for a manned first aid post
your local council - check whether you need a licence
the Coastguard, if your display is taking place within five miles of the coast
You should also contact people in the area who may need to prepare for a firework display, like farmers, stables and dog kennels. Older people living alone or in sheltered accommodation may also appreciate advance warning, so the noise doesn’t come as a shock.
It’s helpful to have one person in charge of contacting all the organisations involved.
Pick a suitable location
Choose a large, clear, well-mown area away from buildings, trees and hazards, like overhead cables. As a minimum, you’ll need an area
of at least 50 metres by 20 metres to let off the fireworks
of 100 metres by 50 metres behind this in the downwind direction for the ‘dropping zone’ (where the fireworks land) – check the weather forecast beforehand
25 metres from the firing area on the opposite side to the dropping zone for the spectators
You should consider cancelling the display in very windy weather.
Make sure you have as many safe, well-lit and sign-posted exits and entrances as possible. These must be away from the firing and drop zone.
Keep the car parking area well away from your display and dropping zone. It should be signposted clearly with a separate entrance to the pedestrian access
On the day of the event
Recheck the site, weather conditions and wind direction
Don't let anyone into the zone where the fireworks will fall – or let anyone other than the display operator or firing team into the firing zone or the safety zone around it
Discourage spectators from bringing drink onto the site
Don't let spectators bring their own fireworks onto the site
If you will also have a bonfire at the display then you should: Check the structure is sound and does not have small children or animals inside it before lighting it
Not use petrol or paraffin to light the fire
Have only one person responsible for lighting the fire. That person, and any helpers, should wear suitable clothing eg a substantial outer garment made of wool or other low-flammable material.
Make sure that the person lighting the fire and any helpers know what to do in the event of a burn injury or clothing catching fire
Never attempt to relight fireworks. Keep well clear of fireworks that have failed to go off
The morning after
Carefully check and clear the site. Dispose of fireworks safely. They should never be burnt in a confined space (eg a boiler)
Additional points to consider if you are organising a major public display
For major displays, particularly those involving category 4 ‘professional’ fireworks or very large number of spectators, a more robust approach is obviously needed.
Plan and mark out the areas for spectators, firing fireworks (and a safety zone around it) as well as an area where the fireworks will fall
Think about how people will get into and out of the site. Keep pedestrian and vehicle routes apart if possible. Mark exit routes clearly and ensure they are well lit. Ensure emergency vehicles can get access to the site
Appoint enough stewards/marshals. Make sure they understand what they are to do on the night and what they should do in the event of an emergency
Contact the emergency services and local authority. If your site is near an airport you may need to contact them
Signpost the first aid facilities
Although it is not required by health and safety law, if you are holding a public firework display, it’s a good idea to have public liability insurance. Bear in mind that not all companies are used to dealing with this type of event, and as with any other type of insurance, it’s worth shopping around: look for a company that’s used to insuring firework and other public events – you are likely to get much better deal and avoid unsuitable terms and conditions. If you have difficulty with the standard insurance terms, TALK to your insurer and find a way forward; they can be very helpful
Firework display checklist
As well as contacting and speaking with all the organisations involved, you and your team will need to:
organise having the fireworks delivered and stored safely
warn neighbours so that they can keep pets indoors
borrow or hire special clothing, like fluorescent jackets, to identify you and your team on the night
get a public address system - a loud hailer will do as a minimum - to give any instructions, eg to evacuate the area in an emergency
arrange for fire extinguishers, metal litter bins and buckets of water and sand to be available on the night
have plenty of torches with full batteries
let people know that spectators will not be allowed to bring their own fireworks, including sparklers
make up all necessary signs
make sure you have enough people to help on the night, including some extra people to cover anyone who falls ill
check whether your insurance covers any firework-related injuries – look for a company that’s used to insuring public events
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