/ Travel & Leisure

Are fireworks a nuisance or an autumn necessity?

Fireworks

Even if you aren’t off to an organised event, the chances are you’ll see some fireworks over the next few days – after all, someone on your road will be putting on a garden display, right?

As we head into peak bonfire season, our Which? Trusted Traders team put together some advice around bonfire rules, considerations and safety.

But when we put it out there on our Facebook page, a common theme started to emerge, and it wasn’t related to bonfires: are our neighbours being as considerate as they should be when it comes to setting off fireworks? It seems that many don’t think so.

Restricting fireworks

And it isn’t just our Facebook comments suggesting there’s an issue – did you know that a petition calling for restrictions on when fireworks can be used gained more than 100,000 signatures after its launch in October 2015? As a result, it was discussed in Parliament back in June, and this was the government’s response:

’We are aware that fireworks can cause distress to animals. Restrictions on the general public’s use of fireworks, and permitted noise levels, already exist and we have no plans to extend them.’

Those restrictions currently include a limit on home-use fireworks to 120 decibels, but you are allowed to use them all year round. The exception? Between 11pm and 7am, when a curfew is supposedly ‘enforced’… it would seem many disagree at just how effective this curfew really is.

Pet hates

While antisocial hours are a problem, it can be an even bigger worry for pet owners, as a dog-owning Which? staff member explained:

‘The world is a scary place for dogs and cats around this time of year. Our two dogs get panicky when they hear loud bangs – their heads shoot up and they tear off to either cower behind us, or find a safe place. They also start panting when they’re frightened – heightened when we take them for a walk in the evening. We tend to not leave them on their own because of this.’

With stress and fear issues for humans and animals alike, you can see why so many people feel strongly.

Of course, for some ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ as colourful pyrotechics light up the night sky on Bonfire Night is a must for autumn, but perhaps there’s an argument to only keep them for organised displays?

So, are ‘antisocial’ fireworks driving you round the twist? Or do you enjoy watching them go off, regardless of the hour or the time of year?

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

While watching the local town bonfire I was wondering what was being burned and the pollution created. I have read that pallets can be made of treated wood and that this can produce toxic fumes. As an asthmatic I always stand upwind of a bonfire because smoke can leave me gasping.

Profile photo of Jorge
Member

Should be banned other than organised displays …total anti social nuisance ..long gone are the days of being a real street occasion..jacket potatoes ..roast chestnuts and treacle toffee ..the odd rip rap or banger..today’s youth have no idea about guy Fawkes or politics ..just an excuse to be anti social … If I was the fire brigade I would strike and provide no cover… So obviously no longer respected just disrespected

Member
Liz Storey says:
30 November 2016

All outdoor detonated fireworks are proven to be toxic air pollutants and environmental contaminants – but the government and fireworks businesses are not telling the public. In case you didn’t know the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that everyone in the country can demand government takes action to ensure we all breathe clean air – if they can’t do it with cars they need to stop the use of toxic fireworks and make them use non-toxic ones – they won’t because these are expensive!

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I would be interested to know about fireworks that are less toxic, Liz. Can you provide us with any links?

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Most joyful things seem to be toxic in some way or other. At least very few people seem to have bonfires every other week these days and coal fires are few and far between. I doubt if the contribution from fireworks to bad air quality is very significant. However, if there is a non-toxic form of firework that gives as much pleasure then it would be silly not to take advantage of them and, through volume sales, get the price down.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I cannot remember the details but there are some particularly nasty chemicals used in fireworks. Getting rid of these would be a step forward but unless we want LED firework substitutes, I don’t think we will see any genuine non-toxic ones.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Quite so. Creating propulsion, an explosion, a lot of noise and and brilliant lights is bound to involve a cocktail of fearsome materials to produce the reactions required. I would guess that the growth of organised displays and big events has a beneficial effect provided they are responsibly managed and controlled. The family fireworks box is still popular but sales are probably not rising significantly year on year, if at all. The more advanced pyrotechnical products are outside most people’s price range [unless they have money to burn].