If you are planning a bonfire on your property, contact your local Fire Service with the location and duration of the bonfire. It is not illegal to hold a bonfire on your premises, however please consider the impact on your neighbours and local area. Some councils also have local bylaws that can impact on when and where you are permitted to host a bonfire so please check with your local council.
The law on fireworks:
You can’t buy ‘adult’ fireworks if you’re under 18, and it’s against the law for anyone to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, except on certain occasions.
Adult fireworks are category 2 and 3 fireworks - they don’t include things like party poppers.
Category 4 fireworks can only be used by professionals.
The law says you must not set off or throw fireworks (including sparklers) in the street or other public places.
You must not set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am, except for:
- Bonfire Night, when the cut off is midnight
- New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is 1am
Check with your council to find out about any local rules for setting off fireworks.
It is illegal to:
- Set off or throw fireworks in a public place
- For under 18s to buy or possess adult fireworks
- Set off fireworks between 11.00pm and 7am (or between midnight and 7am on Bonfire Night, 1am on New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year).
- You can face arrest, charge and a criminal record. Police can enforce a fixed penalty notice of £80 to anyone under 18 possessing a firework in a public place and for breach of the 11pm curfew on letting off fireworks.
- The penalties for using fireworks outside the above curfew hours are imprisonment (maximum 6 months) and a substantial fine.
- Adults should only buy fireworks that comply to British Standard 7114 to be sure they are safe
We appreciate that smoke from a fire can be a nuisance. If the person regularly sets fires that are becoming a nuisance, you should make a record of who is setting the fire, the time, date and the impact it is having. From there, contact your local council who may be able to take action on your behalf. There are no laws that state when or what time people are allowed to have a bonfire, however your local council may have a bylaw in place so you should always check with them.
If you are having problems with a local business setting bonfires and burning items such as tyres or waste please contact the local authority.
Most allotments allow people to set a bonfire on their plot; however this is not always the case so it is important that you check with the allotment committee to find out what regulations are in place.
Although it is generally within the law to have a bonfire, the nuisance caused by the fire can be illegal. For example you should never burn anything that may damage the environment or cause a danger to people’s health. In addition, you should be considerate of the effect smoke may have on your local community especially during the warmer months when people are often enjoying their gardens or drying washing.
If you or someone else has a bonfire that you believe is out of control and is causing a danger to life or property you should call 999 as soon as possible and report it to your local Fire Service. If smoke from a bonfire is reducing visibility for vehicles on nearby roads this should also be reported to the fire service. The person setting the fire could be fined as a result.
You can use fireworks every day of the year from 7am to 11pm. On Diwali, New Year’s Eve, and Chinese New Year this is extended until 1am. On Bonfire night (5 November) it is extended until midnight. If you use fireworks outside of these periods you could face prosecution.
Firework misuse is extremely dangerous and should be reported as soon as possible.
If someone is letting off fireworks on the street, or near a busy road, or is throwing or firing them in a public place you should report this on 999. Remember: if someone is in immediate danger or there are serious injuries call 999.
We understand that loud noises, including fireworks, can be annoying or even upsetting, however we are unable to take action against people letting off fireworks in a safe environment within the curfew times. If the noise is an ongoing nuisance and is affecting you in the long-term, we advise speaking to your local council.
In order to sell fireworks, retailers need to obtain a licence from Northumberland Fire Service or Tyne and Wear Fire Service.
This permits them to sell fireworks from:
- 15 October to 10 November
- 26 December to 31 December
- Chinese New Year, the first day and the three days beforehand
- Diwali and the three days beforehandIf a retailer wants to sell outside of these periods, they need to apply for a separate ‘all year round’ licence.
In addition it is illegal for any retailer regardless of license to sell fireworks to anyone under 18 years old.
- If you know a retailer that is not adhering to any of these regulations then please contact your local trading standards office.
- One person should be responsible for the bonfire and children should be well supervised
- Choose a site away from wooden fences, sheds and where children will be playing
- Never pour petrol, paraffin or methane on to a fire - it’s safer to use fire lighters to prevent flare-ups
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case of an emergency
- Avoid loose clothing and tie back long hair
- After the party, pour water on the fire, rather than leaving it to burn out.
Follow these top 10 tips for a safer fireworks party
- Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable
- Keep fireworks in a closed box and use them one at a time
- 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
- Never use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
- Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving
Sparklers are often viewed as being harmless but they burn at fierce temperatures, equivalent to a welding torch. Follow these top tips for sparkler safety:
- It is recommended that sparklers are not given to under-5s
- Make sure everyone handling sparklers wears gloves
- Hold sparklers at arm’s length while being lit
- Don’t wave sparklers close to other people
- Never hold a baby in your arms while you are holding a sparkler
- When the sparkler has finished put it in a bucket of cold water