Avoid dangerous illegal fireworks, councils and fire authorities warn

By agency reporter
November 4, 2018

Councils and fire and rescue services have urged people to avoid buying cheap fireworks from suspect outlests which could leave them with life-changing injuries.

The warning comes after councils seized hauls of the explosives which were being stored illegally in the run-up to Bonfire Night, and fireworks being sold to children who are using them as weapons.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 370 councils and all fire authorities in England and Wales, is reminding consumers to only buy approved fireworks from licensed premises – rather than from unlicensed outlets, such as car boot sales, vehicles or private houses, and not through social media.

The LGA is also encouraging people and businesses to store fireworks securely to avoid potential risks to life and property.

The warning follows a crackdown on irresponsible and dangerous firework activities discovered by councils and fire and rescue services. These include:

  • A haul of illegal and dangerous fireworks – of a type banned for sale to the public – were seized by Norfolk County Council from three properties in the Great Yarmouth area where the occupants are believed to have been supplying them to children.
  • A man found to be storing more than 33kg of professional display fireworks next to combustible materials in a pub cellar, despite not having a licence, was given a suspended prison sentence following a prosecution by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority.
  • Dozens of fireworks were seized from a home by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Northumbria Police after reports of young children lighting fireworks and using them as weapons. The occupant of the address, where it was suspected the children had got the fireworks from, was given a Community Protection Warning Notice.
  • A Bradford shopkeeper was ordered to pay £1,235 and carry out unpaid work after selling fireworks to a 14-year-old volunteer in a test purchase operation, following a prosecution by West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

To minimise the irresponsible use of fireworks, Trading Standards teams at councils across the country have been carrying out test purchases with underage volunteers to flush out any rogue retailers selling them illegally. Fireworks – including sparklers - can only be sold to adults.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Fireworks are potentially dangerous explosives and can be uncontrollable weapons when used inappropriately. Illegal fireworks, typically inferior in design and materials, put people at much greater risk of life-changing injuries.

“This is why people should only buy fireworks from reputable and licensed sellers, rather than unlicensed outlets, such as car boot sales, private homes, or through social media.

“There is no excuse for selling fireworks to under-18s, which not only increases the likelihood of anti-social behaviour in local communities, but can also lead to serious injury.

“Anyone caught selling fireworks to children, or selling illegal, inferior fireworks, could face a hefty fine and a prison sentence. Fireworks should be checked to confirm that they have the CE safety mark on them and then used in appropriate settings in accordance with the safety instructions.

“We would encourage people to make sure they buy suitable fireworks for any Bonfire Night display in their own back garden, or consider going to an organised event which is generally a bigger, better and, most importantly, safer experience.”

* Anyone who suspects someone is selling fireworks illegally should contact their local council’s Trading Standards via Citizens Advice on 03454 040506.

* Local Government Association https://www.local.gov.uk/

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