Storing Explosives

The Explosives Regulations (ER) came into force on October 1, 2014 and impose storage requirements for explosives including:

  • Fireworks
  • Blasting explosives
  • Munitions
  • Ammunition and shooters powder
  • Marine flares
  • Pyrotechnic flares
  • Car airbags and seatbelt pretensioners
  • Party poppers

Failure to meet these requirements may render anyone storing explosives liable to prosecution.

In general any person storing explosives must hold a licence. In addition any person who stores explosives should do so in a safe manner.

This guidance summarises the requirements for the storage of fireworks when sold in retail premises to members of the public.

Reference is made to the Net Explosive Content (NEC) of fireworks, which is the actual quantity of explosive contained within the fireworks. This is not the same as gross weight, which includes all the fireworks, immediate packaging, casing etc.

Most fireworks for sale in retail premises are generally classified as Hazard Type 4 and are labelled 1.4G on their transit boxes. You are permitted to store up to 250kg NEC of Hazard Type 4 fireworks and you will need an explosives licence (lower tier).

If you store more than 250kg net mass of Hazard Type 4 fireworks then you will require an upper tier licence to store fireworks.

Larger type fireworks labelled 1.3G on their transport packages will generally be classified as Hazard Type 3 (HT3). If you are intending to store HT3 fireworks under a lower tier licence, then the total quantity you can store is significantly reduced.

Under an upper tier licence the quantity of fireworks may also be restricted where HT3 is stored, dependant on required separation distances and you should contact the Fire Service for further advice on this type of firework.

Any person who stores fireworks should carry out a risk assessment and take the appropriate measures to control the risks identified. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have produced a risk assessment, specifically for retail firework storage which can be used and amended to correspond to your storage site.

Fireworks can be stored in the building (shop) from which they are sold. However the risk of a fire involving or spreading to fireworks is increased due to the other activities that take place in the working environment, including the presence of members of the public. It is therefore, imperative that control measure are put in place to prevent the accidental ignition of the fireworks and to restrict the spread of fire. These objectives are achieved by segregating the fireworks from sources of ignition, heat, other combustibles, flammable goods and public access.

Methods of segregation include storing fireworks in:

  • A suitable lockable store room
  • A metal ISO shipping container located outside in a secure location used solely for firework storage.
  • Fire resistant storage cupboards, cabinets or containers used solely for firework storage.

You must ensure that the location is suitable for the quantity of fireworks that you are storing and that the fireworks are kept in their boxes.

For any storage of fireworks you must ensure that:

  • The quantities of fireworks being stored, handled or displayed in areas where employees work are controlled and within the weight limits
  • Sources of heat such as portable heaters are kept well away from the fireworks.
  • Smoking is not allowed
  • Any electrics or lighting do not pose a risk of ignition. Electrics and lighting in display cabinets and small containers where fireworks are stored must be disconnected
  • Fireworks are stored in boxes
  • Fireworks are not emptied into metal dustbins
  • Entry into the storeroom is restricted to employees only
  • The storage area must be clean of loose powder and unwanted packaging
  • There are adequate means of escape in case of fire
  • Suitable lighting present within the store room