Bonfire and Fireworks Safety


The smart way to stay safe is to go to an organised display.  You’ll see a lot more fireworks and it’s a lot cheaper!   

A list of organised displays can be found on :

Durham County Council

Darlington Council


If you do decide to use fireworks at home then please follow the advice below.   

12 Steps to Staying Safe – The Firework Code

  1. Only buy fireworks over the counter from reputable retailers
  2. Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.
  3. Keep fireworks in a closed box.
  4. Follow the instructions on each firework carefully.
  5. Light them at arm’s length using a suitable taper.
  6. Make suitable supports and launchers and stand well back.
  7. Never go back to a lit firework.
  8. Never put fireworks in your pocket.
  9. Never throw fireworks.
  10. Light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves.
  11. Never give sparklers to children under five.
  12. Keep pets indoors


Things you will need on the night 

It’s easy to get a few household things together, these are:

  • a closed metal box to store the fireworks – take them out one at a time
  • a bucket of water – to cool sparklers and put out any small fires
  • eye protection and gloves
  • a bucket of earth to stick fireworks in



Sparklers are fun, but always:

  • supervise children with sparklers and never give them to a child under five
  • light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
  • put used sparklers hot end down into a bucket of sand or water

Other tips on the night 

Finally, follow these other rules for a safe night:

  • never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them
  • never throw spent fireworks on a bonfire
  • take care around bonfires – all clothes, even those labelled ‘low flammability’ - can catch fire



Fireworks and the Law  

There are laws about when fireworks can be sold, and to who – as well as the times fireworks can be set off.   


Using fireworks legally It is against the law to:

  • set off or throw fireworks in the street or other public place
  • set off fireworks between 11.00 pm and 7.00 am – except during certain celebrations

If found guilty by the courts, you could be fined up to £5,000 and can be imprisoned for up to three months. You may be liable for an on-the-spot fine of £80.   


If you are under 18 years of age you can't buy the types of fireworks which can be sold only to adults and possess fireworks in public places. You may be liable for an £80 on-the-spot fine.


When you can use fireworks during celebrations? 

You can let off fireworks until midnight on Bonfire Night and until 1.00 am on New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year


When you can buy Fireworks?  

Fireworks for private use, and from a registered seller, can only be sold:

  • between 15 October and 10 November – around Bonfire Night
  • between 26 December and 31 December – for New Year’s Eve
  • three days before Diwali and Chinese New Year

For the rest of the year, you will only be able to buy fireworks from shops that are licensed to supply them. If you think a shop is unregistered, or selling fireworks when they shouldn’t, contact your council’s Trading Standards Officer. Your council will also have a list of registered sellers.   There is a Trading Standards ‘Firework Hotline’ 03000 260913   



We advise you not to have a bonfire as Fire can spread easily and can cause injuries.  Calls to the Fire and Rescue Service and the Police from annoyed neighbours or concerned passers-by are a drain on resources and may delay attendance at ‘real emergencies’.   If you do decide to have a bonfire, where and how you build your bonfire is important as fire can spread rapidly.  If you have a bonfire, follow these simple guidelines:

  • warn your neighbours beforehand - they are much less likely to complain
  • light the bonfire at a time least likely to affect your neighbours - eg not on a warm day when people will be in their garden
  • only burn dry material not damp, which causes more smoke
  • build the bonfire away from sheds, fences and trees
  • check there are no cables - like telephone wires - above the bonfire
  • don’t use petrol or paraffin to get the fire going – it may get out of control quickly


Bonfire Safety Tips 

Once the bonfire is lit, make sure you:

  • keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby - in case of emergencies
  • don’t leave the bonfire unattended
  • keep children and pets away from the bonfire
  • don’t throw any fireworks into the fire
  • don't burn aerosols, tyres, canisters or anything containing foam or paint - many produce toxic fumes and some containers may explode, causing injury


Once the bonfire has died down, spray the embers with water and make sure it is completely extinguished before leaving it.