With the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) receiving over 1000 calls from the public and responding to more than 500 bonfires in eight hours on Bonfire Night last year, emergency services are pleading with the public to take safety and rules around firework displays in 2021 seriously.
As 5 November sees skies light up across Scotland with dazzling firework displays, there are a number of firework rules, safety concerns and wider impacts to be aware of when it comes to celebrating Bonfire Night – or Diwali – in 2021.
Here are the firework display and purchase rules you need to know for Bonfire Night 2021 – and how to stay safe around fireworks at displays this weekend.
When can you let off fireworks in Scotland?
The Scottish Government introduced the Fireworks (Scotland) Miscellaneous Amendments earlier this year which outlined new rules for using fireworks and holding firework displays all year round, but especially on Bonfire Night.
These include the new rule that from 30 June 2021, fireworks can only be used by the public in certain hours of the day, between 6pm and 11pm.
But on Bonfire Night, fireworks may be used from 6pm until midnight.
And on New Year’s Eve, the night of Chinese New Year and on the night of Diwali, fireworks can be used from 6pm to 1am.
Under the Explosives Act of 1875, it is an illegal and criminal offence to let off or fire fireworks into a road or public place other than your own garden.
It is also an offence under Section 56 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 for any person to lay or light a fire in a public place that could endanger others, property or cause alarm or annoyance to others.
When and where can I buy fireworks in Scotland?
The new Fireworks (Scotland) Regulations Act amendments also enforced new rules for retailers around supplying fireworks, which may only be supplied to the general public between 7am and 6pm as of 30 June 2021.
Firework sales are also capped at five kilograms for members of the public buying fireworks at any one time.
It is illegal for anyone under 18 years of age to possess fireworks in public places or be sold them by retailers.
You can buy fireworks in Scotland from a range of licensed retailers, such as supermarkets like Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Lidl and more, firework shops, garden centres and hardware stores.
Can you let off fireworks in gardens in Scotland?
While you are permitted to let off fireworks in your own private garden in Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) strongly advises the public against doing so.
This is due to the impact which fireworks can have on neighbours and wildlife – with smaller garden spaces also making accidents involving fireworks more likely, especially if there are other houses, trees, garden furniture or vehicles nearby.
The SFRS say that the loud booming noises and brightness of fireworks can have a severe impact on both those with neurological disorders such as autism as well as on animals and wildlife.
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But if you are holding your own private fireworks display, there are several things to consider.
It is illegal for anyone other than a fireworks professional to possess display category fireworks which will be labelled as CAT F4 fireworks on boxes and packaging.
F2 and F3 fireworks may be used in gardens but only providing there is enough space to keep viewers safe.
With CAT F2 fireworks, everyone in your party must stand at least eight metres away for safety.
Since CAT F3 fireworks have a minimum distance of 25 metres, or roughly 82 feet, they should only be used in larger gardens.
How can I stay safe at firework displays this Bonfire Night?
To stay safe at firework displays and bonfires on Bonfire Night, one of the most important things to remember is to keep a safe distance from any fireworks or flames and keep substances which could cause further damage well away.
The SFRS say that you should not drink alcohol or smoke if tending a bonfire or managing a fireworks display, as well as avoid using flammable liquids to start bonfires.
Petrol or paraffin should never be used on a bonfire and materials involved in bonfires should extend to untreated wood and paper based materials to avoid producing harmful smoke.
Those enjoying the delights of sparklers this Bonfire Night or Diwali should remember that these burn at a whopping 1000-1600C and so should be closely supervised when used by children aged five and above, used only while wearing gloves and extinguished by putting the hot, flaming end into a bucket of sand or water.