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Other hazards

Illegal fireworks

A proportion of fireworks in the UK may be stored or sold illegally such as:

  • Selling door to door
  • Unlicensed storage sites, which may be encountered at any time, but there is greater likelihood during the firework season
  • ISO containers that have been used for storage at sites where it would not normally be expected to find fireworks
  • Imported fireworks of a lower standard than legislation permits
  • Importation of illegal fireworks in unexpected ways (e.g. in an ISO container whose paperwork or hazard warning placards indicates that the contents are not fireworks and ‘legal’)
  • Theft from licensed premises

Unlawful activity at licensed sites

Although there is legislation on the manufacture, storage and transportation that requires the highest degree of care and precaution, there may be occasions when these have not been properly implemented, even at licensed sites:

  • Storage areas may be incorrectly marked for the explosives held
  • More explosives may be stored than the licence allows
  • Explosives of a different, i.e. higher, hazard type may be stored than the licence allows
  • Illegal explosives may be present, such as imported fireworks of a lower standard than legislation permits
  • Separation distances may be inappropriate for the explosives held giving the potential for a quicker fire spread and mass explosion
  • The on-site responsible person may provide inaccurate or misleading information about the site’s contents, or they may not have the level of competency that would be expected

Fire and rescue services should be aware of these additional hazards:

  • Large above or below ground oil or gas pipelines serving the establishment, or supplying products for storage or process
  • Compressed gases
  • Electrical transformers, sub-stations, etc.
  • Secondary blast injuries caused by projectiles from the explosion (walls, glass, etc.)
  • Environmental consequences: watercourses, interceptors and plant drainage systems, etc.
  • Equipment required to mitigate environmental impact

Fire and rescue services should obtain the following information from the duty holder:

  • Details of the responsible person for the site and the contact details during working hours and out of hours
  • Where they can get access to a current copy of the on-site plan
  • Whether explosives are transported around the site and if so, how this is achieved
  • Whether security regimes are employed by the duty holder (e.g. electrified fences, guard dogs, etc) that might have an impact on operational tactics
  • Whether using mobile communication equipment would create a hazard
  • Any technical data that gives general information on the properties and physical nature of substances

Planning arrangements should also include the development of contingency plans for a range of reasonably foreseeable events. The plans should also make provision for a pre-determined attendance (PDA) that reflects the access and facilities provided for the fire and rescue service and the type of incident likely to be encountered. They should also take into account the size of the building, the time required to gain access should this be necessary and the time required to assemble sufficient resources to undertake firefighting and search and rescue operations from the PDA and the effect that this will have on the anticipated mode of operations. The PDA should ensure that adequate resources of staff and equipment are provided to undertake initial assessment and safely effect an early response to the incident..