/ Travel & Leisure

Are fireworks a nuisance or an autumn necessity?


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?


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.

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

I have signed every petition to stop the sale of fireworks to the public for a great many years. I wrote to my MP who sent me the usual “brush off” reply. I am 74 years of age, not physically strong but computer literate and passionate about this subject. Any tips as to whom I should contact next? I am happy to cause as much fuss as possible.

My stance is not political, since the PM and the FMs collectively all showed the white feather last year.


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!

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

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.

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.

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].

Morning all! Another fireworks weekend passed and I wondered if anyone had some more thoughts on this? I went to two displays and enjoyed both of them but they were VERY loud. Did anyone opt to venture out in the cold (!!!) or did you decide to stay in this year?

I now live about a mile and a half from where a market town holds its annual firework display, so I walked there with a friend and watched the fireworks, which were spectacular but lasted only ten minutes. Lots of bangs and some fireworks that made unusual weird noises I have not heard before.

What was irritating was the number of people waving around very bright LED torches, despite it being a bright moonlit evening. Hopefully the many visitors were generous, because the event has been struggling to meet the costs. We set off back home because it was so cold and when we got back, I saw that the windscreen of my car was frozen.

That sounds very similar to my town, wavechange. Ours is a free event and it has a fairground and lots of flashing toys for kids to buy. The organisers stand at the entrance with buckets and people donate. Generally speaking, people are quite generous. The same group of people organise any major event in our town (carnival, free cinema nights etc) so people don’t mind.

Our firework display is free too, Alex, but with plenty of people with collecting buckets. It’s either organised by the Lions or Rotary, though they may take turns. There were plenty of flashing kids toys and food stalls but no fairground rides. Parking has always been a problem and it’s nice to live within walking distance. The local 4×4 enthusiasts were on hand to recover cars that had been parked on the grass despite heavy rainfall earlier in the day.

I am a fan of fireworks, and enjoy them at various occasions. However on Christmas Eve this year a neighbouring house started setting fire works off at various intervals from midnight to 6am – to which I was not a fan. Those poor families who had children excited about Santa would no doubt have had a tough night explaining it, the poor children worried they would hit Santa or be so excited thinking they caught a glimpse to be confused that an hour later he returned.
I do think fireworks have a time and a place and with many enjoying a firework party around Bonfire night it is lovely – maybe the restriction if any needed to be imposed could go on the sale of “bangers” to alleviate the stress and trauma caused.