As 2017 comes to a close you may be planning to hold your own party to bring in the New Year which includes a firework display.

However, you need to be careful as there are rules are regulations to setting off fireworks.

According to fireworks cannot be set off between 11pm and 7am except for Bonfire Night when the cut off is midnight, and New Year's Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year when then the cut off is 1am.

If you are planning a firework display it is also worth checking with the local council to find out if there are any rules for setting off fireworks in your area.

Who can buy fireworks?

You can't buy adult fireworks if you're under 18, and it's against the law for anyone to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, except on certain occasions.

Adult fireworks are category two and three fireworks - they don't include things such as party poppers.

Category four fireworks can only be used by professionals.

When can you buy fireworks?

You can only buy fireworks (including sparklers) from registered sellers for private use on these dates:

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

At other times you can only buy fireworks from licensed shops.

Fireworks often mark the festive season
Bring in the New Year with a bang

Where and when can you use them?

The law says you must not set off or throw fireworks (including sparklers) in the street or other public places.

You must not set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, except for:

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

Check with the council to find out about any local rules for setting off fireworks.

What are the penalties for breaking these laws?

You can be fined up to £5,000 and imprisoned for up to six months for selling or using fireworks illegally. You could also get an on-the-spot fine of £90.

This year's main bonfire fireworks event took part in Burton's market place
This year's main bonfire fireworks event took part in Burton's market place

Helpful tips if you are holding your own display:

  • Plan ahead, make sure the site is suitable
  • Account for wind and other weather
  • Make sure everyone is a safe distance from the fireworks
  • Use only appropriate fireworks (It is recommended that only Category 1 - 3 fireworks are used)
  • Obtain fireworks from a reputable supplier
  • Keep fireworks stored in a secure and dry place until ready and keep them away from flammable substances and sources of ignition (eg lighter, match, lit candle)
  • Make sure to collect all firework debris once the display is over
  • 'Duds' should be left for 30 minutes and then put in container of water
  • Don't drink alcohol if setting off fireworks
  • Follow the instructions carefully on each firework
  • Light fireworks at arms length using a taper or firework lighter
  • Stand well back
  • Never go near a firework that has been lit
  • Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
  • Always supervise children around fireworks
  • Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
  • Never give sparklers to a child under five
  • Keep all pets indoors
New Year's Eve is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated nights of the year
New Year's Eve is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated nights of the year

Other useful tips

Staffordshire County Council runs a firework hotline on 0845 4020334 which gives information and advice. For example, you should call this number if you witness;

  • fireworks being sold at car boot sales
  • fireworks are being set off in the street
  • late night displays
  • nuisance fireworks

It is also advised that you get in touch with neighbours and emergency services if you plan on holding your own display.

As well as being a kind gesture to those in your street it also gives the police and fire service a heads up on which locations they could be called to, when and why.

The police may ask questions about crowd control, and public order, while the fire services could ask about firefighting arrangements (buckets of water, fire extinguisher, fire blankets) and the layout of the event.

Only certain retailers are licenced by their local authority to sell fireworks, make sure to only purchase yours from official retailers - Derbyshire's can be found here.

If in doubt, look out for the Trading Standards sticker in shops in your area.

You can help report suspicious sales on the Citizens Advice consumer helpline via 0345 404 0506.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 places responsibilities on organisers of public displays to ensure the safety both of employees and members of the public.

The police and fire service are not the first port of call unless it is an emergency, the majority of issues with fireworks in your neighbourhood would be directed towards your local authority.