RoSPA Safer Fireworks


Different Types of Fireworks

When buying your fireworks, examine them closely for damage. If they are damaged in anyway, do not take them. When you get home, read the instructions carefully and store them safely away from naked flames and water. That way you can be sure they will be in perfect condition on the night.

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Set Pieces (Catherine Wheels)
  • Set pieces come in a variety of sizes. They can be static or non static.
  • Catherine Wheels should be nailed securely to timber uprights about 1.5 – 2 metres off the ground so they can be seen by the spectators right at the back.
  • Tape the fuse to the timber upright so it can’t be blown about by the wind.
  • Read the instructions carefully on non-turning (statics) as they have to be nailed to timber differently.
Roman Candles
  • Candles need to be pushed into the ground for firing or tied to an upright stake and angled away from the audience. They should be bound to a stake in at least 2 places.
  • The fuse is divided into 2 pieces, the delay which joins onto an instant fuse. Ensure that the very end of the delay is lit – this gives about a 5 – 8 second delay until the firework goes off. Do not remove the fuse cover until you need to.
  • Multiple candles strapped together are called batteries.
  • Batteries can be made into a bouquet which form a splay in the sky.
  • A bombette or comet is a candle containing multiple shots which all fire at the same time.
Novelty Batteries
  • Squat batteries should be fired from the ground or a piece of wood.
  • Taller ones should be staked or mounted so they don’t fall over.
  • Inside is a range of tubes which produce a barrage of fireworks that last for around 30 seconds.
  • Novelty batteries are also known as cakes.
  • Mines are similar to shells but without a lift charge.
  • They can shoot to about 20 metres in the air with a whoosh.
  • Mines should be buried under the ground (half way) and pointed away from the audience.
  • Rockets come in different sizes.
  • Should be loaded into a firing frame or launching tube.
  • Angle them away from the spectators. The size of the angle depends on the direction and strength of the wind.
  • Rockets fly into the wind and it depends on the strength and direction as to where it lands.
  • Practice beforehand at least once to make sure that sticks will land on the fallout area rather than on spectators.
Port fire
  • All fireworks come with a port fire (taper) to light them with.
  • Usually burns for 3 – 4 minutes and is wind and rainproof.
  • It can be attached to a stick for greater distance or to light taller set pieces.

Buying FireworksClick here to return to the top of the page

Legislation related to the purchase of fireworks in Northern Ireland is different to that which applies to the rest of the United Kingdom. Find our more…

  • FireworksWhen buying fireworks, only buy from a licensed retailer. Remember, it is illegal to sell fireworks to anyone under the age of 18

  • Only buy fireworks that comply with British Standard 7114:1988 or its European equivalent. Instructions should be in English

  • Only buy fireworks in full packs – do not buy loose fireworks or packs that have had fireworks taken out of them

  • Fireworks bought from unlicensed retailers could severely injure or kill. They are usually badly made and do not conform to the British Standard 7114:1988 or its European equivalent

  • If you suspect that a retailer is selling fireworks illegally, please contact:
    Crimestoppers on 0800 555 1111. Your call is free and you do not have to give your name.

    For referrals to Trading Standards contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506

  • Complete display kits are available from most retailers. RoSPA would recommend these rather than single fireworks, as everything you’ll need, including instructions, will be in one pack and the selection will give a good visual display.

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