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Planning a Safe & Successful Fundraising Fireworks Night

Press release July 6, 2012 Lifestyle

The one time of the year when kids are encouraged to stare into space!

Fireworks Night is a great chance for everyone to join together and enjoy a fantastic event. It is also a tremendous fundraising opportunity when run properly. With ever increasing insurance issues and a budget of up to £100 a minute for fireworks it can be a daunting task but it can still be one of your largest fundraising events of the year.

The pre-planning of a firework night is vital to achieving both a safe and financially rewarding event.  

Where to Start

Before even starting to plan a fireworks event you need to think about;

  • Is this going to be a DIY Fireworks show or are you going to call in the professionals?

The trouble with a DIY Fireworks event is that most people don’t know where to start. If you’ve run them before, you’re probably fine, but many people find themselves in a situation where someone has asked them to “take control of the fireworks” and they simply don’t know what to do.

A key question to start with is “who is going to launch the fireworks?” Do you have a team of volunteers, or are you more likely to have a reluctant firer?

If it's the former, then it's a good idea to look into fireworks training.  In many cases fireworks training is free when you purchase from larger organisations such as Fantastic Fireworks.

However, if you don't have volunteers or you don't have the time for fireworks training, then you will probably want to reduce the number of items to light. Helpfully, the fireworks industry caters for this market very well in the form of Single Ignition Fireworks. These are fireworks which are lit once and usually contain a number of effects including a finale; A box of tricks, if you like. The beauty of an SIB firework is that even the firer can sit back and enjoy them too.

Next up are the big barrages, or large cakes. These are similar to single ignition cakes but often contain only one type of effect. These are best used in conjunction with other types of firework so as to increase the variety of the display. Think about assembling a hot dinner; you rarely pile your plate with just one type of food. You might therefore look to complement your ‘cake’ with some rockets or a Catherine wheel.

If you are running a bigger fireworks display then you may wish to call in the experts, this can be a much simpler way of doing things as a professional company can handle everything from security, crowd control and risk assessments to of course arranging and firing your spectacular show.  This may be a slightly more expensive option however it does leave you with more time to work on your fundraising plan for the night itself.


People (especially Children) are hurt every year in firework related accidents. Safety therefore, must be paramount when planning and running any event which involves fireworks.

A risk assessment can be a great tool when thinking about the safety of your event. They make you not only think about the potential risks, but also the measures that can be put in place to minimise these risks. There are many forms of risk assessment templates which can be downloaded online for free with many local governments having firework specific templates on their websites.

Things to think about before the event

Only buy your fireworks from a reliable supplier (just because someone says they are a reputable retailer, doesn’t mean they are!) Make sure any fireworks you buy are marked with the relevant British or European safety standard marks – BS 7114 or CE. You will also want to have a think about where you are going to store your fireworks before and during the event.

Are you going to be lighting the display yourself? If you are confident in doing so, and are only using category 1, 2 or 3 fireworks then it is perfectly legal to do so, however ensure you take the time to read all instructions and safety warnings on the fireworks you are using during daylight – never read the instructions using a naked flame. If you are using category 4 fireworks then by law you will need a professional to operate the display.

Check the venue/site is suitable with enough room for a full capacity crowd to be at a safe distance from falling fireworks. A minimum of 25 meters should be adequate (be aware this can be affected depending on wind conditions,) this includes any bars, market stalls or anywhere else spectators may be during the display. If you are planning on having a bonfire there should also be at least 25 meters between it and the area in which the fireworks will be lit. You will also need to check the site for any other potential hazards such as power lines and nearby airports.

Make sure you have people in place who know their responsibilities in case of an emergency, the most important of these being someone to call the emergency services. If you are using professionals to light the display talk with them before hand so it is clear what safety procedures they already have in place and what you will need to have covered.

You may want to consider having insurance for your event; although not required by law, public liability insurance is a good idea if there is any risk at all that a member of the public may get hurt. We would recommend using an insurance provider who has past experience in insuring such events as you are more likely to get a better price with more favourable terms and conditions.

If you are throwing a major public firework display then the planning and risk assessment will have to be in a lot more depth, if this is the case a few further things you may want to think about are;

  • Getting in contact with the local emergency services and or organisations such as St John Ambulance as they may be willing to offer you their services on the night and will reduce the response time in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure you clearly mark out the areas in which it is safe for spectators to be, the public should only have access to the safe zone and not be able to get close to where the fireworks will be lit (even by accident.)
  • Think about access to and from the venue keeping pedestrians away from vehicles and allowing a clear route for emergency services to get as close to the site as possible.
  • Make sure there are sufficient facilities such as toilets and first aid stations for the amount of people you are expecting to attend and signpost them.
  • You may want to bring in stewards or a security agency to make sure people aren’t doing anything to put themselves or others at risk, make sure these stewards are aware of what they need to do in the event of an emergency.

Things to think about on the Day/Night of the Event

The first thing to do on the day of your event is recheck the plans you have already made in the build up to the day, looking back can often identify things you have missed and things that can be improved. You can never be too prepared! This includes checking the site again for any potential hazards that may have arisen such as ground and weather conditions. If it is or has been raining and you are using supports for rockets or ground fireworks it is vital you check regularly that they are still secure in the ground and offer little to no movement.

Make sure you check you have all the relevant supplies before the event starts. If you have missed anything, you need to know before the start of the display to ensure it runs smoothly and without interruptions. If you are not using a professional outfit to light the fireworks don’t forget about getting the correct safety equipment for whoever has this job (mainly eye and hand protection.)

All volunteers, stewards, emergency services and anyone else you are relying on for a successful event should know before hand, what their roles are and know when and where they should be positioned throughout the display. If your event lasts longer than a few hours you may have to schedule in breaks for these people with staff to cover them.

Never try and relight fireworks, even if they are faulty or never went off trying to reignite them is very dangerous especially when near other fireworks as they could still explode. If you are planning on having a bonfire make sure no fireworks (used or unused) are allowed to go anywhere near it. There should also be relevant checks and warnings to spectators not to bring any of their own fireworks with them as all your safety precautions could be redundant if this happens.

Once the event is over be sure to clear the site of all litter and waste and dispose of the fireworks in a safe manner, instructions on how to do this should be included with the fireworks.

Raising Maximum Funds

When working out your ticket price it may be worth considering including a product such as a Glow Bracelet or Glow Necklace especially with a child’s tickets. This will allow you to charge a little more for the ticket due to the perceived value of a gift but can give you a higher profit margin. Flash and glow novelty items are huge sellers within the firework compounds, these items are very eye catching and all children will want one! The profit potential in such products are large and as a bonus are also much safer than sparklers.

When choosing your range of products it is worth considering your audience and catering for both boys and girls within your selection. For example Butterfly Wands are a particular favourite with the girls and the boys love Flashing Swords. It is also important to not have too much choice as children can take an age to decide! We recommend 2 items for girls, 2 for boys and some Glow Sticks and Glow Bracelets / Necklaces as an ideal range. When displaying your items you need to ensure you have at least one of each of your range activated and flashing or glowing to create immediate interest and will attract people to your stand. Companies such as AlterEGlow offer up to 15% off on fundraising toys for schools and charities which is a very easy way to maximise profits from the start.

The optimum selling period is between people arriving and the fireworks starting. This is quite a short window, so make sure you have plenty of people serving. Multiple sales locations covering exits are a good idea. Hire extra staff to walk through the crowds selling the products. Ensure your products are priced to the nearest 50p or £1 as finding change in the dark is a difficult and time consuming process.

This article was written by AlterEGlow Novelty Fundraising – A sister company of Global Marketing Group.