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Retail Storage of Fireworks [Hardfacts]


The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (MSER) came into force on the 26th April 2005 updating the storage provisions for explosives including fireworks.
This Hardfacts refers to Hazard Type 4 fireworks covering most fireworks in retail premises. Hazard Type 3 fireworks, being used for display purposes, require more stringent storage / handling arrangements.


The storage and retail sale of fireworks are no longer restricted to the traditional Bonfire Night period in November. Fireworks are also used to celebrate birthdays, New Year, Diwali, Hanukkah or the Chinese New Year.

Firework Retailing Periods

Under the Fireworks Regulations 2004 the two categories of supplier are - those ‘licensed' for all year round supply or those ‘registered' for supplying fireworks in the following periods:

Bonfire Night             Oct 15th to Nov 10th
New Year                  Dec 26th to Dec 31st
Chinese New Year      The day of the Chinese New Year and 3 days immediately before
Diwali                       The day of Diwali and 3 days immediately before.

This is in addition to any licence or registration allowing fireworks to be stored.

Storage - Registration or Licence

Under MSER the licence or registration is granted to a person, not the site. Also the quantities in the Regulations refer to Net Explosive Quantity (NEQ) i.e. the quantity of explosive in the firework and not the gross weight. (If not available the NEQ is taken as one quarter the gross weight).

Unless kept for private use it is an offence to keep >5Kg NEQ of fireworks on premises that have not been registered or licensed:

  • Registration is required if storing up to 250kg of Hazard Type 4 fireworks
  • A Licence is required if storing >250 Kg NEQ of fireworks
  • An HSE Licence is required if storing >2,000 Kg NEQ of fireworks

This covers the amount on site whether on the shop floor or in storage areas.

Most consumer fireworks are classed as Hazard Type 4 (1.4) although some, including larger
display fireworks may be Hazard Type 3 (1.3). The designation should be marked on the transport container and if in doubt the supplier should be contacted.

Sales Area - Storage and Display Arrangements

Under the MSER the amount of fireworks which are allowed to be stored on a shop floor is determined by the size of the sales area i.e. where the public have access:

Sales Area (sq. m)

Maximum Quantity of

Fireworks (NEQ)

Sales Area (sq. m)

Maximum Quantity of

Fireworks (NEQ)

Up to 20

12.5 kg

Up to 250

45 kg

Up to 40

15  kg

Up to 300

50 kg

Up to 60

20 kg

Up to 350

55 kg

Up to 80

25 kg

Up to 400

60 kg

Up to 100

30 kg

Up to 450

65 kg

Up to 150

35 kg

Up to 500

70 kg

Up to 200

40 kg

Over 500

75 kg

Fireworks on the shop floor must be kept in a designated area well away from sources of ignition, in a display case or storage cupboard or cabinet which must:

  • Contain a maximum of 12.5 kg NEQ
  • Be designed to protect against sparks or other sources of ignition, and access by unauthorised persons
  • Contain no other goods except any instruction leaflets/safety literature
  • Have any lights or electrical fittings in cabinets/cases disconnected

Smoking must not be allowed anywhere where fireworks are stored or sold 

General Storage Requirements

MSER requires appropriate measures to prevent fire or explosion, limit the extent of fire or explosion and protect people in the event of a fire or explosion. An assessment of the risks posed by storing fireworks needs to be undertaken and documented if there are 5 or more employees. The HSE have produced guidance documents - see ‘Further Information' below.

All fireworks must be neatly stored in a suitable place with sufficient space for access, selection and stock checking depending on the quantity and type being kept. Key principles are to ensure that the store, container or cupboard is:

  • Suitably waterproof
  • Designed to ensure that explosives do not come into contact with substances with which they are incompatible
  • Kept clean with steps taken to prevent grit entering unpackaged explosives
  • Used only to keep explosives and tools/implements connected with the keeping of explosives

Suitable precautions must be taken to exclude possible sources of ignition such as matches, smoking materials, portable heaters, grit, rust and other contaminants.
In addition fireworks should be kept in closed transport packaging and only opened when needed.

Also ensure appropriate fully maintained fire extinguishing appliances are provided.

Fireworks kept in a warehouse (or similar room / building) with significant amounts of other combustible materials, need separate storage e.g.

a) An ISO transport container (or similar fully enclosed metal structure)
b) Storage cupboards or cabinets
c)  By building a robust structural partition
d) Using a small guage wire mesh screen or cage

The store (or warehouse containing the store) should be separated from the sales area by a fire resisting wall offering at least 30 mins Fire Resistance (FR).

Storage and domestic/sleeping accommodation

If more than 75kg of Hazard Type 4 fireworks are kept in a store within or adjoining a building incorporating domestic/sleeping accommodation, suitable steps must be taken to protect the residents of those premises in the event of a fire. e.g.

  • Provision of a fire detection system in the shop
  • The domestic parts of the building must have access/exit routes that are fire-separated from those used for the pyrotechnic store
  • There must be suitable fire separation between the pyrotechnic store and the domestic accommodation e.g. doors, floors ceilings offering 30 minutes Fire Resistance
  • The store must be closed off and secured from the domestic part of the property in order to prevent unauthorised access and to help prevent accidental introduction of sources of ignition

External Storage - ISO Containers

The above general principles apply. Containers should be located away from inhabited buildings, combustible / flammable materials, parked vehicles and public rights of way with distances being incremental with the quantity of fireworks being stored.
Precautions are needed to protect against arson and malicious attack. Smoking should not be allowed nearby.

Key Action Steps

  • Apply to the local authority for the appropriate registration(s) / licence(s)
  • Read the HSE ‘Storing and selling fireworks safely'
  • Carry out a Risk Assessment using the HSE checklist which accompanies the above guidance document
  • Ensure any Fire Risk Assessment and DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres) assessment incorporates the hazard of fireworks
  • Implement additional precautions as necessary
  • Ensure relevant employees are aware of the assessments and have appropriate training

Further Information

  • Local Trading Standards
  • Local Fire Brigade
  • Chief Fire Officers Association Guide - Retail Storage of Fireworks
  •  HSE website access to:
     Storing and selling fireworks safely
     Retailers Risk Assessment checklist
     Storage of fireworks in retail premises
  • Manufacture and Storage of Explosive Regs 2000 a Code of practice and Guidance ISBN 0717628167

Next Steps:

  • Source discounted products, available to Aviva insured customers and brokers only, via our Preferred Supplier Scheme - click here to find out more about the savings you could make
  • View our Tools and Templates
  • Call our Risk Helpline on 0345 366 66 66
  •  Email us at

Please Note
This document contains general information and guidance and is not and should not be relied on as specific advice. The document may not cover every risk, exposure or hazard that may arise and Aviva recommend that you obtain specific advice relevant to the circumstances. AVIVA accepts no responsibility or liability towards any person who may rely upon this document.

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