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East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service logo

The Use of Pyrotechnics at Public Events

We have serious concerns about the use of marine flares and handheld pyrotechnics at sporting events and festivals including bonfire celebrations. 

The amount of heat and smoke that these items produce is considerable and whilst from a distance, they may look spectacular injuries have occurred in East Sussex, we believe it is only a matter of time before somebody is seriously injured. 

The legal position 

The use of marine flares and handheld pyrotechnics during music festivals were brought in line with sports stadia when a new law took effect from 3 April 2017.  The legislation bans the use of pyrotechnics at music festivals.  Section 134 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 states that anyone caught with a “pyrotechnic article” at a “qualifying musical event” in England or Wales could face up to three months in prison and/or a fine. 

While many believe that pyrotechnics and flares contribute to the atmosphere of an event, it is difficult to argue with how dangerous they are, particularly in a crowd. The law follows considerable public demand in 2016 because of the anecdotes of serious burns and panic attacks brought on by smoke. 

Flares can burn at up to 1,600 °C; pyrotechnics & fireworks can be even hotter, at up to 2,000 °C which is retained for a significant duration after the initial effect. There is also the added danger of an unexpected projectile. The throwing of pyrotechnics from within a crowd can also create dangerous and distressing crowd disturbance. 

Pyrotechnic Articles 

This is defined as “an article that contains explosive substances, or an explosive mixture of substances, designed to produce heat, light, sound, gas or smoke, or a combination of such effects, through self-sustained exothermic chemical reactions.”  It does not include matches, however, it is specifically designed to include flares, fireworks and smoke bombs.


Latest Update :
11 August 2020
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