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Planning a fireworks display

Fireworks have been entertaining crowds for over a thousand  years. Today, spectacular displays still provide excitement and attraction that  few can resist.

Over the years, manufacturers of fireworks have created new  colours, sounds and many new effects.

Whether on land or water, at the football or showgrounds, on  New Year’s Eve or any other day, a well-run fireworks display adds excitement  to any event.

A fireworks display takes careful planning. There are  different types of fireworks displays including strings of firecrackers,  outdoor fireworks, close proximity fireworks and special effects. This information  will help organisers and hosts hold a successful and legal fireworks display.

Download the brochure: Planning a  fireworks display: Keeping our community safe and secure.

Fireworks regulations

Fireworks contain  explosive compositions that burn and/or explode when ignited. These hazards  must be controlled to ensure the safety of the fireworks operators and crowds  enjoying the displays. Fireworks are controlled under the Explosives Act 1999 and the Explosives  Regulation 2017.

Only licensed  fireworks contractors may put on fireworks displays. Fireworks contractors and  operators must be trained to use fireworks and operate to national standards  for firework displays.

Possessing fireworks  (other than unrestricted items such as sparklers, bonbons, streamer cones or  caps for toy pistols) if you are unlicensed is illegal and carries a penalty of  up to $52,250 or 6 months imprisonment.

Duty of care with fireworks displays

Any person involved with a fireworks display has a duty of  care under Section 32 of the Explosives Act 1999 which states: ‘A person who is doing an act involving explosives must take  reasonable precautions and use reasonable care to avoid endangering any  person’s safety, health or property.’

The three main entities who need to carefully consider their  safety obligations and responsibilities for a fireworks display are:

  • event  organiser or display host: the person, organisation, or other party that  engages a fireworks contractor to hold a fireworks display
  • fireworks  contractor:  the licensed person  contracted to plan and organise the display, purchase fireworks and ensure the  display is conducted safely by competent fireworks operators, assistants and  other personnel
  • fireworks  operator:  the person licensed under  the Explosives Act 1999 who is  responsible for, or is in charge of, setting up and firing fireworks in  accordance with the Queensland code of practice: Control of outdoor fireworks  displays.

All 3 parties are responsible for ensuring the fireworks  display is carried out safely.

Fireworks event organiser responsibilities

An event organiser must:

  • select an appropriately licensed fireworks  contractor
  • ensure appropriate insurance coverage for the  display
  • consider noise guidelines and appropriate times  for displays (e.g. hold displays before 9pm, minimise repeated displays at the  same site and limit noise in sensitive areas)
  • obtain approval from the landowner or agent  where the display is held
  • ensure the Explosives Inspectorate, fire and  rescue services, local community and other appropriate authorities have been  notified before the display
  • ensure neighbours of the site are notified at  least four days before the display
  • provide emergency planning (e.g. first aid and  access to and from the display firing site)
  • provide enough time for the operator to set-up  the display and clean-up afterwards
  • ensure crowd control is in place before and  during the display
  • respond appropriately to changed conditions  (e.g. cancel the display due to unsafe weather conditions such as high winds or  other factors)
  • not allow a fireworks display to proceed if they  know the display does not comply with safety requirements.

Nuisance noise caused by fireworks

Guidelines have been prepared to help limit nuisance noise  caused by fireworks displays. These include the following considerations

  • holding displays should be held before 9pm on weekdays  or before 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays
  • selecting fireworks and position of the display  to minimise noise levels
  • limiting the number of events at a site (e.g. 4 per  year in residential areas or 6 per year in commercial or show areas—additional  displays may be held at these sites following application and review)
  • conducting fireworks displays on weekends or  public holidays (with exceptions for Chinese New Year and other special  events)
  • observing restrictions on using specific loud  fireworks.

Specific considerations for close proximity fireworks

Fireworks used inside or close to people are called close  proximity fireworks. These fireworks are generally used inside buildings and  sporting stadiums.

Particular care should be taken by organisers and hosts to  ensure that the fireworks contractor and operator have appropriately endorsed  licences to conduct close proximity displays.

Special precautions should be undertaken to ensure the safety  of audiences and spectators inside buildings. Specific considerations include the following:

  • Fireworks should be tested in venue prior to  performance.
  • Fire services should inspect the building for  fire safety before conducting close proximity displays.
  • The design and construction of the fireworks and  pyrotechnic effect must not endanger performers and members of the audience.
  • Air conditioning, ventilation and fire alarm  systems must be managed by competent people during events.

Selecting a fireworks contractor

  1. Sight the contractor’s licence.
    1. Is the licence current?
    2. How long have they been  licensed?
    3. Does the licence category  cover the fireworks to be used?
  2. Sight the contractor’s  insurance.
    1. Is the policy current?
    2. Does the policy cover the  licence?
  3. Sight the contractor’s logbook and records.
    1. Does the contractor have  documented experience at displays?
    2. Is their documentation  professional in nature and appearance?
  4. Sight the contractor’s copy of  their safety management system and the Queensland code of practice: Control of outdoor  fireworks displays.
  5. Discuss the contractor’s plans  to notify all appropriate people about the display, including neighbours, the  Explosives Inspectorate and fire services.
  6. Discuss the contractor’s crowd control recommendations.
    1. Do you consider the  recommendations adequate?
    2. Is it clear who is responsible  for achieving adequate crowd control?
  7. Confirm how the contractor will control risks.

Fireworks event organiser checklist

  • Are the weather conditions appropriate?
  • Is the licensed fireworks contractor or licensed  fireworks operator present?
  • Are there sufficient licensees to supervise the  assistants at the display?
  • Have you asked to see the display plan to make sure it’s  what you planned?
  • Has the contractor notified all appropriate  persons?
  • Have neighbours been informed?
  • Have the Explosives Inspectorate and fire  services been notified?
  • Have you asked for a copy of the notifications?
  • Are there sufficient assistants to prepare the  display, provide security and clean the site after the display?
  • Are the fireworks operator and assistants  appropriately attired?
  • Do they have full-length clothing cover?
  • Do they have head, ear and eye protection?
  • Are they wearing appropriate footwear?
  • Is crowd control adequate?
  • Is the fireworks area properly defined and  barricaded?
  • Are the spectators aware of their responsibility  to obey the fireworks operator, assistants and security personnel?
  • Is there appropriate safety equipment at the  display site?
  • Are there fire extinguishers?
  • Are qualified first-aiders present?
  • Have you confirmed the contractor’s plan for cleaning up  after the display, including searching the entire area for fireworks material?
  • Is it too dark for a proper search at night?
  • Is a further search in the morning necessary?
  • Will all equipment be removed from the site?

Required notifications for fireworks events

  • Fireworks contractors in Queensland must notify  the Explosives  Inspectorate of  any fireworks display at least 7 calendar days before the fireworks display is  staged.
  • Fireworks contractors are obligated to notify  the local community of the fireworks display.
  • Neighbours in       close proximity (approx. 200m) to the display must be notified no less       than 4 days before the proposed fireworks display.

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