Retailers urged to store fireworks safely and not to sell to children
Shropshire Council’s trading standards and licensing service is reminding shops and online sellers that they must:
- store fireworks safely in line with stringent legal requirements;
- be registered or licensed to store and sell fireworks either with Shropshire Council or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE); and
- must not sell fireworks to anyone under 18 years of age.
The council is continuing to discourage the public from hosting private, unregulated bonfires and fireworks events in gardens or community areas for Bonfire Night, and to avoid gatherings that are not in line with the Government’s current coronavirus laws, including the ‘Rule of Six’.
We know that locally shops and online outlets are registered and licensed for the storage and sale of fireworks and, inevitably, the public will buy and use them, even if it is only in single household or support bubble groups.
We are also concerned that there is an increased risk of illegal sales of fireworks, particularly through social media sites.
Frances Darling, Shropshire Council’s trading standards and licensing operations manager, said:
“I am wholly behind our emergency service partners in their drive to discourage private, unregulated bonfires and home fireworks events, due to the additional strain that this will place on services as a result of many larger bonfire and fireworks events not going ahead this year because of coronavirus. However, inevitably, fireworks will be sold, and I am urging retailers to ensure they store them safely, do not exceed the quantities permitted, and that they don’t sell fireworks to children.
“Retailers are expected to undertake rigorous age verification checks to ensure they do not sell fireworks to children. They are going to find this even more challenging this year with customers wearing face coverings under coronavirus rules. It is very important that retailers operate a ‘Challenge 25’ policy and ask customers to provide valid proof of age if they appear to be under 25. In certain cases retailers will have to ask customers to remove their face covering for this purpose. If a customer refuses to comply with such a request I would urge the retailer to refuse the sale on the basis that they are unable to verify that the customer is 18 or over.
“I also want to stress to the public how important it is to only buy fireworks from legitimate sellers, either in high street stores or online, and to avoid buying any fireworks through social media sites. You will risk buying illegal and dangerous fireworks from a non-registered or unlicensed source, which undermines our legitimate local traders who try hard to implement all the required safety measures. You may find that the fireworks are totally unsuited for use in a domestic back garden.”
Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, place planning and regulatory services, said:-
“Whilst it is tempting to want to celebrate Bonfire Night with family and friends, we very much support Shropshire Fire and Rescue’s message asking people not to host private bonfires at home this year. Not only does this pose a safety risk to individuals, such events may increase the transmission of coronavirus at a time when cases are already rising rapidly across Shropshire. Please remember every social interaction is the opportunity for the virus to infect and spread.
“If people do chose to have their own private bonfire display or attend an event, then we urge you to please follow all safety advice, follow the Government guidelines, keep to the Rule of Six, stay at least 2 metres apart from others where possible, wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, and wear a face covering where you are likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
“And, finally, if you are planning to have any fireworks, please ensure you do not allow children to buy them. Please respond positively to retailers if they ask you to remove your face covering for the purposes of age verification, and use all fireworks responsibly and safely to protect your loved ones and pets from harm. The Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS) has produced some great safety tips on how to to do this and I urge you to follow their advice.”
Further advice on the sale of fireworks, including licensing, categories of fireworks and age restriction can be found on Business Companion at https://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/underage-sales/fireworks; or contact the council’s trading standards and licensing service on 0345 678 9026.
The OPSS safety advice can be found on the Government’s website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/consumer-safety-awareness-campaigns-materials.