Practical Guide to Safety

Preparing your fireworks is an essential part of the display setup, it is also a time to check again for any damage that may have occurred. No matter what time of year you may hold a fireworks display, there is always the potential for something to go wrong and spoil the effect of the display. For example, you cannot remove the safety cap of a rocket and are unable to fire it.

With a small amount of preparation you can avoid potential problems later during the display. Always remember that fireworks can be very fragile and easily damaged.



Each firework must have an instruction label attached, before attempting to assemble or ignite the firework read the instructions carefully as the labels carry important information regarding safe firing. It must give clear warnings stating it can or cannot be held, and spectator safety distances. There must also be clear instructions on how to secure the firework and ignite it. Make sure that each firework meets the British Standard by looking at the label, it must state: complies with BS:7114 (Part 2:1988).  


Rockets need careful attention when preparing for use and a few checks are essential. These checks should also be made when unpacking them. Also see 'Checking for Damage'.

The supplier should give you an adequate supply of launch tubes for the rockets; these should be securely attached to wooden stakes. Make sure the stick is reasonably straight, if severely bent it may not fly correctly. The stick must not be broken, if it is replace it back in the box and contact your supplier for advice.

Carefully remove the safety cap to expose the ignition fuse, if the cap will not come off with the first pull see if it has become stuck with glue. This can happen when manufacturing the rocket where glue can overspill onto the cap now preventing its removal. If glue is holding the cap carefully pull and manipulate the cap until it comes off. Once removed check the fuse is intact and replace the cap, and then once again make sure it comes off easily. If this is not done it becomes very difficult to remove the cap during the display. Check that the rocket body is undamaged. If damaged is apparent, return it to the box and call your supplier for advice

Fig 1. Fuses on the top of the firework usually have a paper cap protecting the fuse held down by a label. Carefully lift the label to allow the fuse cover to be removed. Once the cap is removed and the fuse checked place it back over the fuse and only remove when ready to fire the firework

Fig 2. Fuses at the bottom of the firework (Fig.2) usually have a thin plastic film to help prevent the ignition fuse from damage etc. If the firework is to be placed in a bag carefully release the fuse from the plastic film allowing the top part of the fuse to come away from the side. This will make it easier to ignite the fuse during the display. If the firework is not placed into a bag, do not release the plastic film as this will help protect the fuse from damp.

Even if your display is in the summer months and the ground is dry, it is best policy to place a layer between the ground and the firework, this can be a piece of plastic or card.

Fig 3. Placing 'cake' type fireworks into plastic bags and sealing it with tape or string is the best way to protect them from the effects of damp and rain, there is however a disadvantage with sealing the bag on sunny days. If the bag is sealed and air cannot circulate the effects of the sun can now produce condensation within the bag. To prevent this happening, keep the fireworks out of the sun either by not positioning the fireworks until later in the day, covering with card or leave the bag open allowing the air to circulate. Only close the bag once the sun has gone down or there is permanent cloud cover.

If you are going to protect your 'cake' type fireworks in plastic bags there are right and wrong ways to do this, Fig 3. You will gain no advantage if not done correctly and it rains. See
'Wet Weather Preparation'

Depending on the plastic bag type used it is possible to hide the position of the ignition fuse now it has been covered. To help you to know where the fuse is located, place a piece self adhesive tape close to the fuse position which gives you a visual position. Also try to ensure that all fireworks in plastic bags where the fuses are covered are placed in one direction, i.e. All fuses on left corner. See Display Layout.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Multishot Roman Candles 'cakes'

These come is all sizes and from 6 shots to 1000 shots and can weigh several kilos. When preparing this type of firework, remove one at a time from the carton and place on a table ready for preparation:

Inspect the firework for any damage and make sure it is intact. If the firework is 'loose' in its construction and some parts move within the paper wrapping it should not be used, contact your supplier for advice.

If the day or ground is damp it is always best policy to place the firework in a plastic bag Fig 3. to prevent damp getting into the firework. See -
'Wet Weather Protection';

Find the ignition fuse and make sure it is undamaged. Some fuses are on to top of the firework (Fig.1) or on one side usually on at the bottom and on a corner (Fig.2).

Roman Candles

Place all the Roman Candles on a table and check that they are intact and not leaking powder.

Roman Candles are normally protected by a plastic top cap and the fuse covered also by a cap, but if placed in rain for long periods of time it may not function. Therefore it should be protected from wet weather.
The fuses of roman candles are generally at the top of the fireworks and do not become in contact with the ground, but the firework can soak up wet through the bottom and possibly migrate into the lower firings and so the last shots may possibly malfunction.

To protect the firework place it in the protective sleeve provided with the firework it hasn’t been done already. Make sure the fuse is within the sleeve not allowing the rain to penetrate it. If you do not have a sleeve, place the firework in a suitable plastic bag, (bin liner) and wrap the plastic round the tube and secure with tape.

PLEASE NOTE: Now you have covered the firework make sure you know which way up the firework is. DO NOT place and secure the firework not knowing its orientation.
Make sure you can find the fuse and to help with this place a length of fluorescent adhesive tape/label on the wrapping showing where the fuse is positioned but also an arrow showing which way up the firework should be.


Open the carton and lay out the devices on a dry surface, if you have more than one in a box separate the pieces. Some of the larger devices are in two or three sections but tied together, these will require assembling. Before attempting to assemble the device read the Instruction Sheet that accompanies the device, it has important information how the device is assembled correctly.

You may need a hammer and other tools to assemble some devices so make sure you are equipped, see Tools Required
Check that the device is undamaged and make sure all the firework components are secured to the frame. If the device is damaged in anyway, contact your supplier for advice.

Check to see if the ignition fuse is intact by removing the red cap, once checked replace the cover. Once assembled and checks are made you may find they will not now fit in the carton. Place the device in a safe area, but do not leave on the ground.

Set Pieces

Open the carton and carefully remove the 'Set Piece' from the box. Remember this type of firework can be damaged easily if mishandled. Again some of the larger set pieces come in two or three sections and will have to be joined together.

Check that the fireworks on the set piece have not been damaged in transport, and they are attached to the frame. If any of the fireworks are damaged and leaking powder, carefully replace the set piece in the box and contact your supplier for advice.
If the set piece does need assembling, place the parts on a dry surface and read the
Instruction Sheet that accompanies the set piece, it will have important information regarding the assembly and positioning of the set piece. You may need a hammer and other tools to assemble some devices so make sure you are equipped, see 'Tools Required'

Set Pieces are normally secured to posts 2 to 3 meters above the ground, when securing to poles ensure the fuse leader is cut loose and allowed to hang down. Check the ignition fuse by removing the red cap and replace once the check has been made.