Bonfire night - Tips to keep everyone safe

Published: 17 Oct 2016

With Guy Fawkes night approaching on 5th November, planning for fireworks displays and bonfires are under way. However, although one of the most popular festivals of the year, Guy Fawkes night can also be considered as potentially one of the most dangerous.

Here we have put together some tips for consideration when you plan your display. Keeping your staff and customers safe should always remain your number one priority so before planning anything, ensure a thorough risk assessment is undertaken.

The Facts:

At private and commercial displays, sparklers caused more injuries than air-bombs, bangers, rockets and roman candles combined. Half of all firework accidents happen to children under the age of sixteen. Today parents are more aware than ever of the risk of fireworks and many will seek organised displays to entertain their families.

Implications for Clients:

Organised displays are generally safer than private displays. An organised display means you are “contracting the services of another” and these firework specialist people are at “work” while they organise and then carry out your display. If something goes wrong resulting in an injury, it will be your good name & reputation which will be blamed in the media so some prior planning is prudent.

Planning Ahead:

A risk assessment will need to be conducted by the firework display professionals for the intended site.

Due to the powerful nature of the type of fireworks used for display purposes, specific focus needs to be placed on crowd control and the use of exclusion barriers. Arrangements also need to be made for management of first aid and action to be taken in the event of an evacuation. These issues need to be addressed with the competent person/s responsible for managing the event.

Be Prepared – Key points to consider depending on the size of the display include:

  • Liaison with the authorities, fire & police (check with own insurers)
  • Check whether you are adequately insured to cover any firework-related injuries to those present at the display
  • Storage of fireworks must be secure prior to the display
  • Emergency drill should something go wrong
  • Means and methods of outside communication in the dark (torches, radios, jackets, etc)
  • Arrange for fire extinguishers, buckets of water, buckets of sand and metal litter bins to be made available on the night
  • Review marshalling and first aid cover
  • Lighting for pathways and steps (slips, trips, falls)
  • Car parking & pedestrian access routes (use of marshall’s)
  • Publicise that spectators will not be allowed to bring their own fireworks
  • Crowd control
  • Plan for bad weather and how it could affect not only your function but the wider community (wind blowing smoke etc)
  • Bonfire planning: building-ignition-removal of ash
  • Completion of a written and thorough risk assessment

The above are just some of the actions to be taken to ensure you have a safe and profitable event, but are by no means exhaustive.

Please contact us if you have any queries or would like more information on how to ensure your staff and customers are kept safe.