Not so much to you and I perhaps but, as a rural community with more four legged residents than two legged ones, the period around the 5th November always presents a challenge for livestock and animal owners.
Please take some time to think about how your actions will affect your neighbours and fellow villagers if you are lighting a bonfire and letting off fireworks. Please liaise with your neighbours.
It is important to remember that the organiser of an event – whatever size – has the responsibility to protect neighbours including their livestock, animals and property.
The following explains the laws and considerations you should be thinking about.
Bonfires and fireworks are fun for most of us humans, but the “firework season” seems to have been getting longer and there have – in recent years – been several evenings when fireworks were let off in the village and subsequently there were several complaints from parishioners whose dogs, horses or livestock had been frightened. We are a rural community who have more four legged residents than we do two legged ones!
Just like some humans, some animals – elderly, pregnant, asthmatic etc. – are particularly vulnerable. If the owners of pets or livestock can be informed in advance, they can usually make sure that their animals are protected, or, if necessary, moved.
With this year’s celebrations nearly upon us, the Parish Council thought it would be helpful to
remind everyone of the laws and recommended good practices for both fireworks and bonfires, as when holding such an event there is a duty of care towards neighbours and others in the village.
The Fireworks Regulation Act 2004 does, amongst other things, prohibit the use of fireworks between the hours of 11pm and 7am. This year, on Tuesday November 5th only, the cut off is midnight.
Infringements of the Firework regulations can result in a fine of up to £5,000 or even a prison sentence for using or selling fireworks illegally.
Too much noise can frighten people and animals. It is also an offence, under the Animal Welfare Act
2006, to cause unnecessary suffering to animals. This is enforceable by the police, trading standards
or the RSPCA and again carries heavy penalties similar to the above. There are special rules for large or commercial firework displays, and those where category 4 “professional” fireworks are to be used. The Health & Safety Executive website has more details.
Even for a smaller “domestic” display, it is worth considering the risks and checking your
household insurance policy.
The Government has issued a short document called “Celebrating with bonfires and
fireworks – A community guide” and this includes detailed guidelines for a successful and neighbour friendly display. This document is available on our website and here are the main points:
• Give neighbours a few days’ notice of your display.
• Use appropriate fireworks – try to avoid really noisy ones – and buy from reputable dealers.
Store them safely, in a closed box, out of reach of children and animals.
• Make sure pets and other animals are safely away from fireworks.
• Avoid letting off fireworks in unsuitable weather (if the weather is still and misty pollution
could be a problem).
• Let off your fireworks in large open areas. Keep children well away from the lighting area.
Each firework should have a minimum safety distance marked on it. Setting off fireworks
close to buildings is dangerous and tends to amplify the sound.
• Do not allow children to play with or light fireworks. Ensure that they hold sparklers at arm’s
length and when they go out, dispose of them in a bucket of water.
• Never go near a firework that has been lit but hasn’t gone off. It could still explode. If it still
hasn’t gone off after half an hour, soak it with water just to make sure that it cannot reignite.
• After your display, a responsible adult should clear up firework fall-out and dispose of it
safely. Remember debris can fall on neighbouring properties; if you think this might have
happened ask if you can check.
• Don’t use sky lanterns as you have no control over them once they’ve been set off. They can
kill animals, litter the countryside and start fires.
• Warn your neighbours beforehand, so that they can close windows, keep pets indoors and
take any other necessary precautions.
• Build your bonfire well clear of buildings, roads, garden sheds, fences, trees and hedges and,
if possible, choose somewhere sheltered from the wind to minimise the risk of the bonfire
being blown out of control or of smoke restricting the vision of road users.
• Check there are no cables – like telephone wires – above or close to the bonfire.
• Before you light the bonfire, check whether any pets, wildlife or small children have crawled
• Always keep a bucket of water or a working hosepipe nearby.
• Don’t get rid of household waste or processed wood on the bonfire if it will cause pollution
or harm peoples’ health. You should always burn dry material as it produces less smoke.
• Never use flammable liquids to start a bonfire and never throw on fireworks or burn
dangerous items such as aerosol cans, paint tins, foam furniture, rubber, plastics or
• Don’t leave bonfires unattended and keep children and pets away. A responsible adult
should supervise the bonfire until it has burnt out.
• Once the bonfire has died down, pour water on the embers to stop it reigniting.
Clerk, Kingston Seymour Parish Council