Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

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Guidance for Retailers

Storage of explosives (fireworks)

The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (MSER) came into force on 26th April 2005 and impose storage requirements for explosives including:
  • Fireworks 
  • Blasting explosives 
  • Munitions 
  • Ammunition and shooters powder 
  • Marine flares 
  • Pyrotechnic flares 
  • Car airbags and seatbelt
  • Party poppers

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

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

This guidance is a summary of the requirements of a registration for the storage of fireworks when sold in retail premises to members of the public.

Reference is made to the 'net mass' (NM) 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. If you do not know the net mass of a fireworks it is taken to be 1/4 of its gross weight. For example if the fireworks weigh 1000kg they are taken to have a net mass of 250kg.

You are permitted to store up to 250kg net mass of Hazard Type 4 fireworks. Most fireworks for sale in retail premises are generally classified as Hazard Type 4 and are labeled 1.4G on their transit boxes.

Larger type fireworks, labeled 1.3G on their transport packages, will generally be classified as Hazard Type 3. The storage quantities and legislation for this hazard type are different to the guidance given in this document and you should contact the fire service for further information on the storage of this type of firework.

If you store more than 250kg net mass of Hazard Type 4 fireworks then you will require a license to store fireworks and not a registration.

Any person who stores fireworks should carry out a risk assessment and take the appropriate measures to control the risks identified.

See the Fireworks in shops: Retailers' risk assessment checklist - PDF

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 are 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

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

Under no circumstances must live fireworks be displayed in shop windows or shelves

Display cabinets and cases must:

  • Contain no more than 12.5kg 'net mass' 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 
  • Designed to protect against sparks and other sources of ignition 
  • 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 
  • Kept clean and tidy 
  • Not located along escape routes

You must ensure that only safe levels of fireworks are stored in the sales area

If more than 75 kgs 'net mass' fireworks and stored within or adjoining a building containing domestic or sleeping accommodation, suitable steps must be taken to protect the residents of those premises in the event of fire. The following specific precautions must be taken. 

  • A fire detection system (linked smoke detectors) must be installed in the shop. 
  • 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 (for example 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.

Metal Shipping 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 the fencing must be 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.

Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005

This legislation applies to businesses that are manufacturing or storing explosives.

The main requirements of the regulations are as follows: 

  • Anyone manufacturing or storing explosives must take appropriate measures to prevent fire or explosion; to limit the extent of any fire or explosion should one occur; and protect persons in the event of a fire or explosion. These are the key requirements of the regulations and are backed up by extensive guidance in the Approved Code of Practice. 
  • In most cases a separation distance must be maintained between the explosives building and neighbouring inhabited buildings. This is intended to ensure that risks to those living or working in the area are kept to an acceptable level. If there is development in this separation zone then the quantity that may be kept must be reduced. 
  • With certain exceptions a licence is required for the manufacture or storage of explosives. HSE (Health and Safety Executive) licenses manufacturing activities because of the greater risks involved.

HSE also licenses larger explosives storage facilities. In most cases, stores holding less than two tonnes of explosives are either licensed or registered by the local authority or the police. HSE may not grant a licence for a manufacturing facility or, in most cases, store until the local authority has given its assent (normally following a public hearing). This is an important safeguard in the present system that is to be retained.

Useful links


The Fireworks Regulations 2004

The Fireworks Regulations 2004 apply to any businesses which supply or sell fireworks.

Under the above regulations there are restrictions on the types of fireworks that can be sold, the periods in which they can be sold and who they can be sold to. Failure to comply with these requirements may render a supplier of fireworks liable to prosecution.

Defined Periods

Under the above regulations fireworks may only be sold during the following defined periods; 

  • On the first day of the Chinese New Year and the three days immediately preceding it; 
  • On the day of Diwali and the three days immediately preceding it; 
  • During the period beginning on the 15th October and ending on the10th November; and 
  • During the period beginning on the 26th December and ending on the 31st December.

If you wish to sell adult fireworks at any other time of the year you will need to apply for a suppliers license (all year round license). This license is in addition to a registration or licence required for the storage of fireworks under The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005 (MSER). Please see below.

The cost of a supplier's licence is set at �500. Please contact us for an application form (contact details are listed below).

Age of purchase

It's illegal to sell fireworks or sparklers to anybody under the age of 18 with the exception of caps, cracker snaps, novelty matches, party poppers, serpents and throwdowns.

Display of notice

There must be displayed, in a prominent position, a notice, measuring no less than 420mm by 297mm (A3 standard paper size) and whose letters are no less than 16mm high, stating that-

'It is illegal to sell adult fireworks or sparklers to anyone under the age of eighteen'; and 'It is illegal for anyone under the age of eighteen to possess adult fireworks in a public place'.

Information to be provided by a supplier to The Fire Service upon request. If, in a single transaction, you sell a quantity of fireworks such that the total net explosive content (the net mass) of the fireworks exceeds 50kg, you must keep a record of the following information for production to the fire service if requested; 

  • The name and address of your supplier; 
  • The name and address of the person whom you are supplying; 
  • The date at which the fireworks were supplied to yourself; 
  • The total amount of explosives contained in the fireworks supplied.

You must keep this information for at least three years.

In addition, if you sell more than 50kg net mass of fireworks to any person, the purchaser must show you a valid storage registration or license certificate issued under the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations to prove that they can legally store the fireworks.

The following fireworks must not be sold to the general public: 

  • Bangers; 
  • Air Bombs; 
  • Mini-rockets; 
  • Fireworks with erratic flight (e.g. ground spinners, jumping crackers, squibs); 
  • Aerial shells, aerial maroons, shells-in-mortar and maroons-in-mortar; 
  • Fireworks intended for professional use, marked 'This device must not be sold to, or used by, a member of the general public'; and
  • Category 3 fireworks (those marked 'Display Fireworks') that produce a sound exceeding 120 decibels.

Other measures

  • All fireworks sold to the general public must be marked as complying with British Standard BS 7114 (this sets out safety specifications and test procedures for fireworks); and 
  • Retail boxes of fireworks must not be broken down for sale.

Storage and fees

The Manufacture And Storage Of Explosives Regulations 2005 (MSER)

To store smaller quantities of explosives/fireworks a registration under MSER is required - for example most registrations are for shops selling fireworks during the firework season. In certain circumstances you can store up to 250kg net explosive content (nec) of hazard type 4 fireworks.

For quantities above this weight a license under MSER will be required.

Useful Links:

Contact: Jean Murray - Threat Response Group
Tel: 0151 296 4607.


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