Fireworks available to the public
People under the age of 18 are not allowed to buy fireworks, nor possess them in a public place.
Otherwise, all fireworks, since 1997, must comply with BS7114, and be marked accordingly and fall into one of the following three categories:
Under BS14035, there are also now Category 2 fireworks that require a longer distance of 8 metres, providing potentially better effects than 5-metre fireworks but without the fallout of Category 3 fireworks.
Fireworks of louder than 120dBA at 15 metres cannot be sold to the public.
It is not illegal for a firework to be set off at less than the minimum safely viewable distance; however, in the event of any injury to a spectator, the firer might be liable if the distance was too short.
A Category 3 firework will contain no more than 1 kg net explosive content in the case of combinations and fountains, except for fountain combinations, which can contain up to 3 kg of net explosive content.
Category 4 (“professional”) fireworks are for sale only to fireworks professionals. They have no restrictions, and this is the default category for any firework which has not been tested to confirm that it should be in one of the lower categories.
The law considers a firework professional to be someone employed in a business that fires fireworks, such as a firework display outlet, or a stagehand. In practice, most stores that sell Category 4 fireworks do ask for proof of training; most category 4 professionals are trained under the British Pyrotechnists Association Professional Firers Training Scheme, although equally legitimate professional competency courses, recognised under current legislation, are provided by some commercial organisations such as Illuminate Consult. Company directors are liable under the Health and Safety at Work Act for the safety of their employees, and prosecutions have occurred.
Mortar Shells: all fireworks of the “aerial shell”/”mortar shell” type, which launch single, large projectiles into the air where they explode to create effects – are Category 4. This was as a result of the deaths in 1996 of Stephen Timcke and David Hattersley, who were killed by mortars on successive nights.
Mini-rockets, bangers, firecrackers, fireworks of erratic flight (including jumping fireworks) were banned in 1997.
In 2004 the definition of mini-rocket was further restricted, and airbombs were also banned, in an effort to stop anti-social behaviour involving fireworks.