Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Be safe, not sorry, this bonfire night

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) has issued a safety warning ahead of annual bonfire night celebrations.

With hundreds of people suffering injuries from fireworks each year, ECFRS is urging the public to take necessary precautions, and to be considerate of others during any celebrations.

In the last five years more than 3,500 people have been admitted to hospital as a result of injuries caused by fireworks, with the majority of these happening at events or parties held in residential settings.

The Service is spreading the message that it is safer, and often less expensive, to attend organised public firework displays. Run by professionals, with suitable precautions in place, there are often emergency service workers on standby, in case of an emergency.

ECFRS is asking anyone planning on hosting their own event to consider the impact their display may have on others. Because fireworks are often loud and can frighten people, particularly those with sensory impairments or autism, and animals the advice is to let neighbours know in advance and avoid purchasing the noisiest fireworks.

The Service has also advised that anyone hosting a private event should familiarise themselves with the firework code ahead of the event:

  • Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable, and ensure it finishes before 11pm (or midnight on 5 November)
  • Only buy fireworks which carry the CE mark; keep them in a closed box and use them one at a time
  • Read and follow the instructions on each firework, using a torch if necessary
  • Light the firework at arm's length with a taper and stand well back
  • Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
  • Never return to a firework once it has been lit
  • Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
  • Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
  • Always supervise children around fireworks

Will Newman, Head of Prevention at Essex Fire and Rescue Service, said: “On average, almost 130 fires in the UK are started by fireworks each year. Winter is a busy time for the fire service, and we need your help to make sure our crews are available when they need to be.

“We’d always recommend attending a public event as they are so much safer. But if you choose to host a display at home, please be careful and familiarise yourself with the firework code before setting up your display - this can help to reduce the risks for yourself and for your friends and family.

“We understand that fireworks are a key part of bonfire night for many people, but it’s important to remember that they are explosives and they pose a risk to safety.”

As part of the advice, ECFRS is strongly discouraging people from building bonfires at home, as they can spread out of control very quickly. But, for anyone still planning on having a bonfire, the advice is:

  • Bonfires must be at least 18 metres (60ft) away from houses, trees, hedges, fences, and sheds
  • Check that there are no cables or telephone wires above the fire
  • Never use petrol or paraffin to light a bonfire
  • Always check that no animals are hiding in the bonfire before lighting it
  • Only burn dry materials – damp materials will cause excess smoke
  • Never put aerosols, batteries, tins of paint or tyres on a fire
  • Keep children and pets well away from the fire
  • Bonfires should always be lit by a responsible adult
  • Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby
  • Do not leave the fire unattended, and make sure it is fully out before heading inside

To find out more about staying safe this bonfire night, visit the dedicated bonfire safety page on the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service website:

You can also access free educational resources for children aged 5 – 18, on the ECFRS Education Hub: 

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