Firework Categories

Category 1 (Indoor)

Category 1 refers to fireworks which pose a minimal hazard and this classification is usually given to indoor fireworks.

Category 2 and 3 (Garden & Small Displays)

Category 2 and Category 3 fireworks are those available from your fireworks retailer and which are on sale to the general public. A consumer firework will fall into one of those two categories depending on how much of a safety distance it requires.

Category 2 items which are also known as garden fireworks require the smallest distance which is 5 metres if the firework is classified to British Standards. However you may see an increasing number of fireworks in the coming years which are classified to new EU/EN standards and the safety distance in that case is 8 metres.

Category 3 items which are also known as display fireworks require the greatest distance which is 25 metres for fireworks classified to British Standards. Again, it is likely in coming years you will see a number of fireworks classified to the new EU/EN standards and although the firework will still be Category 3 it may have a different safety distance on the label, for example 15 metres.

A firework usually gets its category as a result of its gunpowder content, weight, size and how far it ejects debris. All fireworks on sale to the public have to be extensively tested and classified as either Category 2 or 3. These classifications also impose a noise limit and ensure the firework has a safety fuse and clear instructions on the label.

It is not illegal for a firework to be set off at less than the minimum safely viewable distance; however, in the event of any injury to a spectator, the firer might be liable if the distance was too short.

A Category 3 firework will contain no more than 1kg net explosive content in the case of cakes and fountains, except for fountain cakes, which can contain up to 3kg of net explosive content.


Category 4 (Displays ONLY)

Category 4 fireworks are for professional use only. These can include aerial shells and other items banned for sale to the public. Many category 4 fireworks are supplied without a fuse and are extremely dangerous to the untrained.

The law considers a firework professional to be someone employed in a business that fires fireworks, such as a firework display outlet, or a stagehand. In practice, most stores that sell Category 4 fireworks do ask for proof of training; most category 4 professionals are trained under the British Pyrotechnists Association Professional Firers Training Scheme although other training schemes are provided by some commercial organisations. Company directors are liable under the Health and Safety at Work Act for the safety of their employees, and prosecutions have occurred.

In coming years you will start to see fireworks which carry the CE marking.

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