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Fireworks – guidance for retail storage

If you are planning to sell fireworks, there are a series of steps you need to take to protect the safety of your staff and customers.

Holding fireworks in a retail environment will have an impact on the fire precautions for your premises, therefore it is vital you comply with the law.

It is important to remember, however, that fireworks generally carry a low fire risk.

According to formal guidance on the storage of fireworks in retail premises issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), fireworks are very stale commodities that often travel thousands of miles from their place of manufacture to point of sale.

They are not susceptible to spontaneous ignition and they do not give off flammable vapours. Fires involving fireworks in storage are rare.

Nevertheless, it is important that retailers put plans in place to manage appropriate storage of fireworks.

This feature looks at two areas: compliance with the law and what health and safety steps you need to take to protect your staff, your customers and your property. 

Legal requirements

According to the HSE, retailers selling fireworks have responsibilities under the Fireworks Safety Regulations 1997 and the Fireworks Regulations 2004. 

These two pieces of legislation cover the types of fireworks that can be sold as well as the licence you will need if you are selling fireworks outside certain times of the year.

The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 sets out detailed information on what licences and registrations retailers need to hold, depending on the type of fireworks they will be putting on sale.

The manufacture and storage regulations require anyone storing more than 5kg net of explosive to either register with their local authority or, for larger quantities, obtain a licence.

The HSE advises that if you are in doubt to check with your supplier or with your local licensing authority.

What you need to do

In order to manage fireworks in retail premises, the first step is to undertake a risk assessment.

This is a detailed appraisal of your working environment and the possible hazards that could spring up in it.

Think about what could go wrong and what measures you will need to put in place the limit this happening.

In terms of on-site storage, it is important to use suitable display cabinets and to ensure that fireworks are left in their transport boxes until they are ready to be moved to display cabinets avoid handling fireworks unnecessarily.

To protect staff and customers in the event of a fire, ensure any fire detection systems you have in place are working properly and make sure all employees understand fire evacuation procedures. 

Ensure all escape routes and fire exits are clear and fire exit doors unlocked.

Further reading

HSE Explosives pages:
DTI Fireworks pages:
Aviva's Hardfacts sheet: