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Fireworks storage and retailer regulations

Explosives Regulations 2014 

As the explosives licensing authority, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) is informing future applicants who wish to store pyrotechnic articles of the change in the law and how it affects them, as potential duty holders of a fireworks storage licence.

The new Explosives Regulations 2014 (ER14) came into force on 1 October 2014 and consolidate and revoke a number of existing explosives regulations. ER14 brings together the requirements of health and safety-related explosives legislation into a framework based on common topics and merges registrations into the licensing system.

It is important to note that this authority requires 28 days' notice to supply such a licence.

As a result of the consolidation the approved code of practice for the manufacture and storage of explosives regulations 2005 (L139) was withdrawn from use on 01 October 2014.

The new explosive regulations will be supported by a suite of overarching and sub-sector guidance. The overarching guidance consists of the following documents:

A list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) provides further information and there are also links to other organisations that may provide the information or guidance you are seeking.

Fireworks retailers

Applying for a licence

Please use the following form/s to apply for a Licence


Storing between 5kg and 2,000kg NEC of other explosives

Apply to Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service for a licence by using the application above.

There are four hazard types of explosives - 1 is the most hazardous and 4 is the least hazardous.  The majority of retail fireworks are classed as hazard type 4. The hazard type of an explosive will be listed on manufacturer's or supplier's information.


Storing more than 2,000kg NEC of explosives

You must apply for a licence from the health and safety executive if you:

  • Store more than 2,000kg of explosives, or 
  • Store explosives at mines or harbours


Applying for a licence to sell fireworks at any time

You can only sell fireworks at certain limited times of the year.

  • During the period beginning on the 15 October and ending on the 10 November
  • During the period beginning on 26 December and ending on 31 December
  • On the first day of Chinese New Year and the three days immediately preceding
  • On the day of Diwali and the three days immediately preceding

If you intend supplying fireworks outside of the above periods you must  apply for an all year licence to supply (PDF) [222KB] from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service. The annual fee is £500 and the licence must be renewed annually.

In addition to the licence to supply, applicants also need to be licensed with the fire authority to store fireworks (application form above).


Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR)

If you intend to store fireworks you will be required to complete a risk assessment based on DSEAR.



Firework storage safety requirements checklist: storage area

  • In a backroom storage area fireworks may be kept in substantial containers such as wooden/metal cupboards, in there closed transport packaging or in an enclosed area such as a separate room kept exclusively for that purpose (note that metal dustbins are no longer acceptable); transport packaging must be resealed by taping or interweaving the box flaps after fireworks have been removed.
  • The firework storage place should be kept exclusively for this purpose; this may be by way of storage inside ISO shipping containers, separate rooms, cupboards or cabinets, or by the use of structural partitions, wire mesh screens or cages. Retail packs should always be kept in their transport cartons - however in smaller outlets where cupboards, cabinets, trunks etc. are used as storage containers, the fireworks will have been removed from their transport boxes 12.5kg NEC rule applies. Assuming the cupboard in question is sufficiently large and robust, this is acceptable.
  • There must be a fire-resisting separation (e.g. a block or stud partition or other suitably constructed wall) with at least 30 minutes fire resistance between the store and the retail sales area; 
    ISO containers or similar must be kept away from public areas. They should be marked with a fire division four symbol (red diamond accompanied by the number 4) while fireworks are inside.
  • Smoking should not be permitted in the vicinity of the container
  • ISO containers in car parks must be cordoned off to prevent malicious/arson attacks and to ensure vehicles are kept at least 3 metres away. If the container is in a secure yard it should be positioned to avoid collision by delivery vehicles.
  • Fireworks must be kept away from flammable/combustible goods such as drain cleaners, paint strippers, adhesives, acids, wood treatments, fertilisers, peroxides, white spirit, nylon tights/stockings, cardboard boxes, paper, toilet rolls, and other combustible materials, LPG and other gas cylinders, any hot surface and parked vehicles.
  • Unwanted empty packaging waste should be removed from the storage area straight away (although some transport packaging should be retained in the event that articles need to be returned to the supplier)
  • The storage area must be situated where it does not endanger emergency escape routes
  • Fire detection systems should be installed - at the very least there should be a smoke detector in good working order
  • Sources of ignition must be excluded, such as matches, lighters, space heaters and other portable heaters
  • In a walk-in store interior lighting is acceptable but preferably should be intrinsic such as a "bulkhead" type to retain shattered bulbs. Bulbs therein should use cool glass such as low energy types, and should not be directly above stored fireworks. Light switches should be on the outside of the store if not the electrics require isolating. The use of battery lighting should be considered.
  • Direct sunlight should not fall onto explosives (fireworks should not be on display in or near a window. This is especially relevant where it may be magnified, for example through stored glass bottles which could act as lenses.
  • Fireworks must not become wet or damp, for example through leaking roofs or placing transport packages directly onto the ground
  • Stock rotation to ensure that the oldest stock is used first
  • Return any damaged articles or packages to the supplier
  • Ensure stacks of packages are stable. Additionally, over stacking can cause pressure deformation of the lowest packaging and fireworks leading to spillage of their pyrotechnic contents; 
    ISO containers - place the fireworks in the centre to allow air to circulate freely, in the event of attempted theft by use of a stihl saw it will not penetrate the stock controlling the risk of fire & explosion
  • Fireworks should be stored as low as possible to reduce the impact if dropped. Goods should not be stored above fireworks for the same reason.
  • The store-room should be restricted to trained staff who are aware of the dangers. It should be in an area where personnel do not need to pass through or remain within for long periods.
  • Fire exits and escape routes must be kept clear and unlocked at all material times
  • Staff must be made aware of the existence of the explosives storage area (this includes cleaning personnel), and trained in the procedures for selling to consumers and restocking displays (including weight limits)
  • A daily stock sheet or electronic point of sales system should be used to calculate end of day stock levels to ensure that overstocking does not take place.
    Staff should also be trained in fire prevention and how to deal with abnormal and emergency situations. Emergency procedures should be in writing and clearly displayed, and fire drills carried out.
  • Visitors to the store, especially contractors working around the explosive storage area, must also be made aware of the existence of the hazard, fire prevention procedures and action to be taken in the event of an emergency. Contractors' portable electrical appliances should not be used around the explosives storage area.
  • Bare metal components in explosive storage containers should be covered or coated by a non-metallic material such as paint or thick tape to reduce the risk of spark initiation
  • Persons under 18 years of age should not be left in charge of a store, General advice should be that storage and supply of explosives is only to be carried out by an appropriately trained adult.


Fireworks storage safety requirements checklist: retail area

  • In the retail area fireworks must be kept in suitable containers or display cabinets - glass and perspex are both acceptable, plus wood, metal or another substantial material which does not readily catch fire
  • They must be positioned well away from fire exits and emergency escape routes
  • There should be no other flammable items stored with the explosives, except instruction leaflets or safety literature to be supplied with the fireworks
  • Fireworks outside of both the storage area and the display cabinets (eg. during transfer in roller cages) must never be left unattended
  • Storage cabinets should be positioned so that fireworks are the final item a consumer will purchase - fireworks should not be pushed around a supermarket in a trolley with the rest of the shopping
  • Cabinets must be clean/dry before use and secure to stop unauthorised entry (by way of a suitable locking mechanism; (ie lock or combination lock)
  • Any electrical fitting in the cabinet (eg lamps, refrigeration motors) must be disconnected from the supply and measures taken to prevent inadvertent reconnection (plug removed by a competent person)
  • Smoking must not be permitted - notices should be displayed to that effect
  • "Dummy" fireworks may be displayed outside of cabinets. They must not be mixed with live fireworks.
  • When live fireworks are taken from a display case, they must be kept under the supervision of a member of staff until sold
  • Escape routes and fire exits must be kept clear
  • No individual container/cabinet may contain more than 12.5kg net, and each one must be secured against public access for example by the use of a suitable lock or by retaining in a "staff only" area
  • Retail packs of fireworks must not be split into individual fireworks
  • Sparklers must carry the warning "Not to be given to children under 5 years of age"
  • Any fireworks deemed unacceptable for public use by the regulations (normally British Standard Category 4) must carry the warning "this device must not be sold to or used by a member of the general public"
  • Only fireworks which conform to British Standard 7114 Categories 1, 2 and 3 and to the Firework/Pyrotechnics (Safety) Regulations may be sold to the public
  • A store (ie a shop) which adjoins or is part of a domestic/sleeping accommodation may not contain more than 75kg NEC (net explosive content) of fireworks unless there is a functional linked fire detection system in the shop, the domestic parts of the building have fire-separated access/exit routes (access is not through the shop), the separation doors/floors/ceilings between the store and domestic accommodation offer at least 30 minutes fire resistance, and the store is fully closed off and secured from the domestic part to prevent unauthorised access. This will be most relevant to smaller shops which may have, for example, a flat above or a terraced house.
  • Articles such as Christmas crackers, party poppers, toy caps and throw-downs are likely to present minimal risk in the quantities usually found in shops - they may therefore be kept on open display in their retail packaging
  • A store (ie a shop) which adjoins or contains domestic/sleeping accommodation may not contain more than 75kg nec of fireworks


General guidance

Registrations and licences issued in 2014 under the old legislation are valid until the date of expiry or revocation.

  • If you intend to sell fireworks you will need a licence.
  • You must register with the fire authority
  • Always store fireworks safely
  • Never sell to persons under the age of 18


Firework display organisers

Visit the Health and Safety Executive website for advice on organising firework displays.


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