In October 2014 the Explosives Regulations 2014 replaced the Manufacture & Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005, although many similarities remain around how fireworks and other explosives should be stored and existing restrictions on when fireworks can be sold have not changed.
If you store more than 5kg of explosives (including fireworks) you require a licence to keep them. Applications will usually be to your local authority Trading Standards Service and licences are granted to a person (or company) for the premises at which the explosives are to be stored.
With agreement from the licensing authority a licence may last up to five years. The licence will specify the types and quantities of explosives that can be kept and where they are to be stored. This information should be supplied to the licensing authority with the application. The licensing authority should be consulted before any changes to those arrangements are made.
The quantities referred to on the licence are the ‘net mass’ and not the gross weight of the whole product/s. Net mass is the quantity of the actual explosive contained and is sometimes also referred to as net explosive content, net explosive quantity or powder weight. It's the responsibility of the person storing explosives to know the net mass. It can usually be found on outer packaging or documents from suppliers.
Who needs to be licensed
A licence is required if storing more than 5kg new explosive content of fireworks or other explosives. This includes both the amount held on a shop floor sales area as well as in stock rooms or storage areas. If you store less than 5kg of explosives you may not need to be licensed but you should still ensure you are storing safely.
In addition to the need to ensure safe storage of explosives, if you're keeping more than 250kg of Hazard Type 4 explosives (1.4G or 1.4S), or more than 25kg of any combination of Hazard Type 3 and 4 there are additional restrictions on where these can be stored. They must be kept in a separate building or container and the ‘separation distances’ specified in Schedule 5 of the regulations must be followed.
In the case of fireworks, most for retail sale are Hazard Type 4 but some may be Hazard Type 3 (boxes of which are usually marked 1.3G). If you are storing any Hazard Type 3 explosives your entire stock should be treated as such. So, if more than 25kg are in one place, you're also subject to separation distances from other buildings, accommodation or public areas.
You should also contact us for advice if you are unsure what you can store and where, or if you wish to keep any Hazard Type 1 or 2 explosives.
Quantities are often marked on the outer packaging but if you are in any doubt as to the Hazard Type or explosive content (net mass) of your stock, you should seek advice from your supplier. Responsibility to store in a safe manner, within permitted quantities and in accordance with necessary separation distances rests with the licence holder.
General storage requirements
If storing explosives you must take appropriate measures to:
- prevent fire or explosion
- limit the extent of fire or explosion, including measures to prevent the spreading of fires and the communication of explosives from one location to another
- protect persons from the effects of fire or explosion
No person who stores explosives shall permit a person under 18 years old to work in the storage area except under appropriate supervision.
All explosives must be stored in a suitably safe place depending on the quantity and type of being kept. The key safety principles are to ensure that the store, container or cupboard is (where appropriate):
- suitably waterproof
- designed to ensure that explosives do not come into contact with incompatible substances
- kept clean, with measures taken to prevent grit entering unpackaged explosives
- used only to keep explosives and tools/implements connected with the keeping of explosives
Suitable precautions must be taken to exclude possible sources of ignition such as matches, smoking materials, grit, rust and other contaminants.
Explosives should always be kept in their original closed transport packaging and only opened when needed. You should not decant loose explosives (including fireworks) from their transport boxes into metal dustbins or similar containers. There's a danger that the articles will become mixed up or damaged with loose compound collecting at the bottom of the dustbin or container.
Where explosives are kept in a store/stock room (or similar room or building) that holds significant quantities of other combustible materials, safety controls for the area should be seen as a whole and a site specific risk assessment should address this. Generally though the storage should be in either:
- an ISO transport container, or similar fully enclosed metal structure
- storage cupboards or cabinets
- a building with a structural partition
- a suitable wire mesh screen or cage
- metal dustbins (provided products are kept in their transport packaging)
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has produced two overarching guidance documents, L150 on the ‘Safety of Explosives’ and L151 on the ‘Security of Explosives’. Additional sub-sector guidance including ‘Fireworks in Retail Premises’ is also available from the HSE. It expands on this leaflet and provides useful guidance for anyone who stores and sells fireworks from retail premises.