Storing Explosives

General information about storing explosives

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 vital that control measures are put in place to prevent the accidental ignition of the fireworks and to restrict the spread of fire. This can be achieved by keeping fireworks away 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 storage location is appropriate to prevent fire or explosives, it will limit the spread of fire and/or explosion and it will protect people form the effects or fire or explosion.

The storage area must

  • be secured against unauthorised access and restricted to employees who need access and kept locked at all other times

  • allow the fireworks to be stored away from hazardous substances or anything that might create an additional explosion such as aerosols, gas canisters, fertilisers etc

  • have ignition sources removed, matches, lighters, smoking materials, electric fan heaters, portable radiators, heating pipes, gas boilers. Electrical installations such as lights kept to a minimum

  • be clear of combustible materials, they shouldn’t be stored with items that will easily catch fire, empty transport cartons can be stored but should be flattened out, so they aren’t mistaken for full

  • be free from damp. Damp fireworks are more likely to leak explosive content and could behave differently when ignited

While in storage the fireworks must

  • be in transport cartons / boxes whenever practical, they should only be removed when necessary to damage and the carton should only be opened to remove stock and then securely closed straight away

  • be stored in a safe, secure, and tidy manner. Transport cartons can be stacked but this should be done in a way the packaging won’t be damaged.

  • be away from the mean of escape, they should not be stored anywhere that may impede the safe evacuation of the premises

Damaged fireworks should be stored separately so they aren’t accidently sold. Damaged fireworks generally present an enhanced likelihood of ignition. A separated marked up area of the same store is acceptable or a marked-up transport carton.

Storage adjoining domestic/sleeping accommodation 

If your proposed storage is adjoining domestic/sleeping accommodation, adjoining is classed as accommodation that could be above, on the same level, below the shop and either owned by the licensee or a private dwelling that joins onto the premises e.g. terrace or semi-dethatched house, then the quantity of explosives licenced for storage my be reduced. 

If you wish to store more than 75kg HT4 or any HT3 fireworks then the following specific precautions must be taken:

  • A fire detection system must be installed in the shop with either a linked alarm in the domestic part or an effective sprinkler fitted in the fireworks store

  • The domestic parts of the building must have access and exit routes that are fire-separated from those used for the firework store

  • There must be suitable fire separation between the firework store and the domestic premises (eg. doors, floors and ceiling offering 30 minutes fire resistance)

  • The store must be closed off and secured from the domestic part of the premises to prevent unauthorised access (including children) and also help prevent the accidental introduction of ignition sources

Display cabinets

Live fireworks must not be displayed in shop windows or on open displays, such as shelves.

Displaying of fireworks in the sales area must be in an area away from any ignition sources and an area which can be supervised by staff at all times. Fireworks must be displayed in locked cabinets, cases or cupboards.

Display units must:

  • Contain no more than 12.5kg NEC of fireworks

  • Be made of material that does not catch fire readily such as wood, metal, glass and Perspex

  • Be completely enclosed on all sides and having no gaps

  • Be designed to protect against sparks and other sources of ignition

  • Be kept clean and tidy

  • Not permit access from the public and be kept locked when unattended

  • Not be used to store other goods with the fireworks

  • Not contain electrics or lighting

  • Not located along escape routes

The quantity you will be allowed to display in the sales area will depend on the size of you shop floor. Under no circumstances should the amount of fireworks stored in the shop areas exceed the levels set out in the following tables. 

Maximum quantity of fireworks (NEC) by sales area (sq m.)

Sales area (sq. m)

Maximum quantity of fireworks (NEC)

Sales area (sq. m)

Maximum quantity of fireworks (NEC)

Up to 20


Up to 250


Up to 40


Up to 300


Up to 60


Up to 350


Up to 80


Up to 400


Up to 100


Up to 450


Up to 150


Up to 500


Up to 200


Over 500


Shipping (ISO) containers 

If containers are used for storing fireworks, the following criteria must be adopted:

  • They must be kept in an area away from the public access

  • Measures must be taken to prevent smoking in the immediate area of the container

  • Where it is necessary to use land or a car park adjacent to a building it is essential to fence off the container, with the fencing being at least 3 metres from the container. The fence will prevent arson, malicious acts and vehicles parking or colliding into the container

  • All locking points of the container should be locked with a suitable lock

If the container is being used to sell directly to the public. The following criteria must be adopted:

  • You must contact the local council to ascertain whether a street trading licence is required

  • The fireworks stored in the container must not exceed 12.5kg NEC