Issued By
West Yorkshire Trading
Standards Service


Fireworks officially go on sale on 15th October 2002 in time for the Bonfire Season. Under a Voluntary Code of Practice the Fireworks Industry has agreed that fireworks should only be on general sale to the public during the 3 weeks leading up to 5 November and a few days afterwards. In addition this year there has also been a voluntary Code of Practice since January 2003 banning the supply of air bombs, which retail for the same price as cheap pocket money toys.

Despite this West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service has been receiving complaints about fireworks being discharged and causing a nuisance, via the Consumer Helpline, since the beginning of July indicating that some retailers may not be keeping to the agreements.

This is against a background where the total number of people injured by fireworks during the 2002 autumn firework season that is 11 October to 19 November was 1017. This represents an encouraging fall of 25% on the 2001 figures of 1362. Although this is very welcome it is still up overall on the figures for 2000. Injuries to 13 -17 year olds particularly boys are still disproportionately high especially in relation to casual incidents in the street and other public places. This is an age group which should not even be in possession of fireworks. Acts of hooliganism are the cause of many accidents and complaints rise each year in relation to anti social behaviour.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service aim is to get the message across to those retailers who persist in selling fireworks to those who are most likely to misuse them and are therefore at risk from accidents. Half of all the injuries happen to children under 15 years of age even though the law prohibits the sale of fireworks to anyone under 18.

Trading Standards will be working closely in partnership with the West Yorkshire Fire Authority and Police Service in the run up to November 5th. The aim is to clamp down on under age and illegal sales of fireworks in a combined effort to push the accident total down even further.

Failure to comply with the requirements of the law can result in prosecution and a fine of up to £5000 or a prison sentence of up to 6 months or both.

Martin Wood Chief Officer West Yorkshire Joint Services has said “All fireworks must comply with BS 7114 and be safe. It is illegal for anyone under 18 to be sold fireworks and that includes sparklers. It is also illegal to break open packs of fireworks and sell them individually. Last year this Service successfully prosecuted a number of offenders who sold to children resulting in heavy fines being imposed. This year will be no exception.”

Councillor Graham Clarke, Chair of the Trading Standards Committee added “It distresses me to hear of so many needless injuries to our young people. We must stop fireworks getting into their hands. My message to them is get wise or get hurt. Fooling with fireworks is a dangerous game and you could be scarred for life.”

Any person concerned about underage or illegal sales of fireworks are asked to ring the West Yorkshire Consumer Helpline on 0113 3848848.

For further information contact:

Carol Hallett (General Media Contact) 0113 3836407
Patricia Harter (Enforcement Officer) 0113 2898217
Tony Downham (Principal Officer) 0113 289 8247
Paul Cooper (Divisional Manager) 0113 2898240

Notes to Editors:

Number of injuries for 4 week period 11 October -19 November 2002 was 1017
In the previous year the figure was 1362.This represents a fall of 25%.

Age Groups of Injured Persons:

  2001 2002
Over 20 508 380
16-20 169 117
13-15 235 167
Under 13 450 353
Total 1362 1017

Trading Standards Officers carry out firework test purchasing with children under the age of 18 from 18 October. This carries on until 5 November

It is illegal to supply aerial shells or similar, jumping crackers, mini-rockets, bangers and Chinese crackers.

Inspections at retailers ensure fireworks comply British Standard 7114. Any which do not or are illegally sold are seized.