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Useful safety and planning advice for firework displays and bonfire events.
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Risk Management for Bonfires and Firework Displays

Fireworks displays can be fun as well as a great fundraising activity for any Scout Group, District or County. The presence of incendiary devices and crowds of people can result in personal injury or property damage. The Scout Association Public Liability Policy, arranged though Unity, will extend to cover these events. After all, accidents can happen at even the best organised events.

The advice here, if followed, will help to ensure that your event will be conducted in the safest possible manner help to ensure that if something does go wrong you can show that you were taking appropriate measures to avoid an incident.

Event planning

  • Before setting up your event, make sure you have informed your local Fire Brigade, Police and First Aid association.
  • One person should be appointed, who is in overall control of the event, with final responsibility for all health and safety matters.
  • The site chosen should have as many entrances and exits as possible, which should be well lit and clearly signposted.
  • Preferably independent firework display organizers /operators/contractors should be used, if so written confirmation should be obtained that they have public liability insurance in place and that the contractor complies with all regulations and advice from the appropriate bodies.
  • Make sure individuals are made fully aware of their duties, reporting and referral lines.
    Keep spectators at a safe distance.
  • A rope or strong barrier should be used to clearly mark off the display area.
  • Keep well clear of buildings, trees and other hazards.
  • To ensure proper crowd control, you should arrange for stewards to be present.
  • Adult stewards should be onsite for crowd control, there must be one steward for every 250 spectators and a minimum of two. Stewards should be easily recognisable to spectators.
  • Suitable fire fighting equipment must be available.
  • Appropriate safety clothing, headgear, gloves and goggles are to be worn by persons responsible for lighting any bonfire or fireworks.


  • Try to recruit at least one person with previous firework experience.
  • All fireworks used should be compliant with British Safety Standards.
  • Car parking areas should be sited well away from the display area and dropping zone.
  • Do not allow spectators to enter the site with their own fireworks.
  • Fireworks should be kept in a metal container and removed one at a time before replacing the lid.
  • Fireworks which fail to ignite should never be returned to.
  • Fireworks should only be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Fire fighting equipment should be stowed nearby.
  • Spent or failed fireworks should be soaked in a container of water and manufacturer consulted about disposal. Fireworks must not be put on bonfires


  • Bonfire must be sited a safe distance from spectators, and well away from firework firing area.
  • A responsible adult should be in charge.
  • The bonfire should be stable.
  • Bonfires should be a manageable size.
  • Check the bonfire for pets and wildlife, especially hedgehogs, before lighting it.
  • Paraffin, petrol or solvents should never be used to start a fire.
  • Dangerous rubbish such as aerosols should never be burnt.
  • Qualified first aiders should be patrolling the site with regular contact with the person in charge of the event. The use of 2-way radios makes this process much quicker and saves time in an emergency.
  • Water should be poured on embers and the site should not be left until the fire is completely out.

Protecting your Investment
Fireworks displays are often cancelled due to bad weather. Unity can arrange a Cancellation & Abandonment policy to cover your investment, if the event has to be cancelled for reasons outside of your control.

If the event is a fundraing event, you may need Money cover for cash you raise.

Check our Insurance for Scout Bonfire and Firework Displays page for the insurance cover you may need.

Further information
Further information can be acquired through:

Health and Safety Executive - www.hse.gov.uk

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents - www.saferfireworks.com

Publications that are available are:

HSE - Health and Safety Executive produces two books called 'Giving your own firework display' and 'Working together on firework displays'.

The first being for most displays, the second being for displays which include:

category 4 fireworks, aerial shells and maroons, shells-in-mortar and maroons-in-mortar, bangers including batteries containing bangers and Chinese crackers, fireworks with erratic flight and mini rockets.

They can be ordered from HSE Publications - 01787 881165 or downloaded on the HSE website. HSE have a Health & Safety Info line - 0845 345 0055.

The HSE and RoSPA guidelines must be adhered too



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