4th Government Firework Debate November 2nd 2020

On 2nd November 2020 (02-11-20) the UK Government will debate the 2019 firework petition which was stopped early for the General Election with 305,579 signatures. WRITE TO YOUR MP

The 2020 petition is fast approaching 50,000 please continue to sign and share it, click here

The petition and the government response is below. The Government in 2018 responded to our 2018 petition saying they would gather evidence for a ‘fact-based evidence base’. This is due to be released soon. We at FAB will be interested to see what ‘facts’ they have uncovered about the amount of anxiety and distress that is caused by random/unexpected fireworks. There is nowhere to report such distress and it is difficult to find anywhere to report a legal act .. Fireworks are legal for 16hrs of every day 365 days a year. It is this lax and outdated law that must change. It is not (as the Government says) an equitable balance between those that enjoy fireworks and those that don’t.

Please continue to write to your MPs and continue to sign and share the 2020 petition which we believe would make a massive difference to all affected by the overuse of fireworks. Read why we believe LICENSING WILL WORK

Ban fireworks for general sale to the public.

Every year more and more people, animals and wildlife get hurt by fireworks. It’s time something was fine to stop this. There are enough organised firework groups around for us to still enjoy fireworks safely so please help me stop the needless sale of them to the public!More details

The noise from fireworks causes a great amount of fear, stress and anxiety in wild animals. … Errant fireworks can also cause environmental damage though fires, and from the release of poisonous chemicals and particle-laden smoke, which is not just inhaled by wildlife, but contaminates the natural environment.
In England last year, 4,436 individuals attended A&E because of an injury caused by a firework – more than double the 2,141 in 2009/10.
With around 40% of the UKs dogs being scared.

This petition closed early because of a General Election Find out more on the Petitions Committee website

305,579 signatures

Show on a map

Parliament will debate this petition

Parliament will debate this petition on 2 November 2020.

You’ll be able to watch online on the UK Parliament YouTube channel.

Government responded

This response was given on 5 November 2019

The Government takes the matter of fireworks safety seriously. This includes protecting consumers and the public. Laws are in place to control firework availability and use.

The Government recognises that many people have strong feelings about fireworks, and the potential negative impact they can have on a community, for example, by causing distress to individuals or animals.
However, we believe that the majority of people who use fireworks do so appropriately and have a sensible and responsible attitude towards them. We consider it a minority of people who use fireworks in a dangerous, inconsiderate or anti-social manner.
The current legislative framework for fireworks aims to reduce the risks to people and disturbance to animals. Legislation ensures products being placed on the UK market meet essential safety requirements. It also controls the storage, sale and use of fireworks including where and when fireworks can be sold, when they can be set off and by whom, and sets maximum noise levels. For example, legislation allows retailers to sell consumer fireworks during the traditional firework periods of: 15th October to 10th November (inclusive); the 3 days prior to and including the first day of Chinese New Year and Diwali; and 26th December to New Year’s Eve (inclusive). But retailers may only supply fireworks outside these periods if they obtain a licence from their local authority.
In addition, enforcement mechanisms are in place to tackle those situations when fireworks are sold illegally or misused. There are a range of penalties for breaching legal requirements, including, in certain circumstances, imprisonment. The police and local authorities have powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, where it arises, caused by the misuse of fireworks.
The Government recognises the strength of feeling around the use and misuse of fireworks and has listened to the concerns raised in parliamentary debate and wider discussion. We receive representations from a wide range of stakeholders, including members of the public, organisations and charities, with wide-ranging views on what the issues are and what action they would like to see.
Following the Westminster Hall debate on 26 November 2018 regarding fireworks, the Minister with responsibility for fireworks policy and legislation in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kelly Tolhurst MP, asked the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to develop a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that had been raised. This includes looking for data around noise and disturbance, anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. As part of this work we are considering the findings of the Scottish Government consultation on fireworks, which was published on 4th October. We will also consider the House of Commons Petitions Committee inquiry on fireworks once that has reported.
The aim of the evidence base is to build a full picture of the data around fireworks in order for government to identify whether there is a problem, and if so, what action – if any – is appropriate. This work will also help us identify trends across fireworks seasons and determine whether, there has (for example), been an increase in fireworks being set off or an increase in firework related injuries.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Why Fireworks are Outdated in 2020 and it’s Time for Change

Over the years, the rights of those who are badly impacted by others’ actions have gradually improved. The rights of the majority are not more important than those of the minority. Mental health rights, disabilities rights, animal rights, equality rights. We still have a long way to go, but in today’s society versus 100 years ago, it is far more accepted that we quite rightly consider the needs of those who are partially sighted, who have dementia, who suffer from PTSD, animals’ rights who can’t speak for themselves. Even the rights of the environment, nature and its impact on our future. There are rules against anti-social behaviour that impacts others, against noise that is not good and often distressing for others. We are also aware of the costs of our emergency services.

And yet. Here we have it. We – in the UK – and not in many European countries I hasten to add – continue to allow people who want a ‘bit of fun’, to let off noisy, dangerous fireworks – whenever they like pretty much – apart from past someone’s considered late bedtime. Every single day of the year. So much so that many people who suffer from PTSD can be immensely distressed, taken back to their original trauma, trembling, sweating – just because someone has the right to let off a firework ANY DAY OF THE YEAR. No warning for the person who suffers from PTSD. Bang. Off it goes. From nowhere. How cruel, how unkind. You can read examples from people who contacted us regarding how it impacted them and their loved ones. In the past, shockingly, shellshock and any mental health issues were a stigma and people coming back from war did not get the support they deserved from society. That was the past. We know better now and should be showing more respect to those adversely affected by fireworks. There are alternative ways to ‘have fun’, so that these people can stay in peace.

The government argues there is enough legislation. Really?! They are not considering the rights or the voices of these people, animals and the environment. The government doesn’t want to deny the rights of people to let off a firework. Yet what about protecting the rights of not only PTSD sufferers, but many people with dementia, autism, hyperacusis (hearing sensitivity), people who want to enjoy a peaceful evening and a good night’s sleep, as well as animals, their owners and the environment?

Many partially sighted or blind people rely on their dogs to guide them and yet, how much do we consider their rights, by allowing these to go off at any time? Many of their dogs are badly impacted as this blog highlights – substantially affecting the ability of their owner to get around and live life normally.

We are now acutely aware of the climate crisis and 85% of us concerned about it. Yet we let these fireworks, with toxic fumes and gasses out into the air. The toxins and chemicals are damaging to the environment, the packaging lands somewhere, the chemicals go into rivers. You can smell the air after a firework has gone off. It’s not good. Your gut knows that is toxic. Imagine birds and other smaller animals, with far smaller lungs. There are also reports that show that people are affected by this polluted air.

Wildlife suffers. Swans in Prague were reported to have died from fireworks, so thankfully, fireworks were banned there. Our pets suffer. So many pet owners dread fireworks, as they have to stay in to protect their loved ones from the terrifying effect of fireworks. So much so that Classic FM does a programme on bonfire night, to play calming music for dogs. The trouble is we need it many more nights of the year. About half of pets are known to suffer because of them. And it affects the stress of their owners and their lives too. Animals’ hearing is more sensitive than humans and often the noise can be very painful for them, as many animal charities confirm and support the need for a change in the law.

If you look at the cost of fireworks to the emergency services, this article by the London Fire Brigade explains there were 900 callouts in London alone in 2019 fireworks season. “Last year, we attended more than 900 incidents over the Halloween and Bonfire night period – 25th October to 8th November 2018. There were 43 fires started by stray fireworks, including one which caused a fire that damaged the roof of a Hornsey pub. Bonfire night is traditionally one of the busiest nights for incidents no matter the day that it falls on. Last year London’s firefighters attended 117 separate incidents on November 5th.” The costs of this financially just for the fire callouts, not the damage? This article explains, “It is common for two fire engines to be sent to an emergency call, each carrying about five firefighters at a cost of about £100 per person and £500 per vehicle.” So that’s 5 firefighters at £100 each, making £500. So £1,000 per vehicle, including 5 firefighters and 2 vehicles needed. So £2,000 per callout that could have been going somewhere else. Multiply that by the 900 callouts in London is £1.8 million. In London alone! The cost around the country must be horrendous! And the impact to the NHS: “According to figures from NHS Digital, there were almost 2,000 occasions of people going to A&E linked to fireworks in 2018/19.” We need the NHS for other things at the moment and any time. We need the money to be spent elsewhere… we all know that.

I think you get the point. It’s inconsiderate. It’s outdated because it’s not fair to let off fireworks whenever you like, just because of some outdated notion that some people can make a noise at the expense and to the detriment of others – be they people, animals or the environment. There is a debate in parliament on 2nd November 2020. Write to your MP and tell them your views and ask them to be present at the debate.

Another firework debate!

WRITE TO YOUR MP PLEASE, tell them about debate and explain how you feel about fireworks.. .. writetothem.com

This petition 276425 is due to be debated on November 2nd 2020 in Westminster Hall, UK Parliament

Ban fireworks for general sale to the public.

Every year more and more people, animals and wildlife get hurt by fireworks. It’s time something was fine to stop this. There are enough organised firework groups around for us to still enjoy fireworks safely so please help me stop the needless sale of them to the public!More details

The noise from fireworks causes a great amount of fear, stress and anxiety in wild animals. … Errant fireworks can also cause environmental damage though fires, and from the release of poisonous chemicals and particle-laden smoke, which is not just inhaled by wildlife, but contaminates the natural environment.
In England last year, 4,436 individuals attended A&E because of an injury caused by a firework – more than double the 2,141 in 2009/10.
With around 40% of the UKs dogs being scared.

This petition closed early because of a General ElectionFind out more on the Petitions Committee website

305,579 signatures

Show on a map

Parliament will debate this petition

Parliament will debate this petition on 2 November 2020.

You’ll be able to watch online on the UK Parliament YouTube channel.

Government responded

This response was given on 5 November 2019

The Government takes the matter of fireworks safety seriously. This includes protecting consumers and the public. Laws are in place to control firework availability and use.

The Government recognises that many people have strong feelings about fireworks, and the potential negative impact they can have on a community, for example, by causing distress to individuals or animals.
However, we believe that the majority of people who use fireworks do so appropriately and have a sensible and responsible attitude towards them. We consider it a minority of people who use fireworks in a dangerous, inconsiderate or anti-social manner.
The current legislative framework for fireworks aims to reduce the risks to people and disturbance to animals. Legislation ensures products being placed on the UK market meet essential safety requirements. It also controls the storage, sale and use of fireworks including where and when fireworks can be sold, when they can be set off and by whom, and sets maximum noise levels. For example, legislation allows retailers to sell consumer fireworks during the traditional firework periods of: 15th October to 10th November (inclusive); the 3 days prior to and including the first day of Chinese New Year and Diwali; and 26th December to New Year’s Eve (inclusive). But retailers may only supply fireworks outside these periods if they obtain a licence from their local authority.
In addition, enforcement mechanisms are in place to tackle those situations when fireworks are sold illegally or misused. There are a range of penalties for breaching legal requirements, including, in certain circumstances, imprisonment. The police and local authorities have powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, where it arises, caused by the misuse of fireworks.
The Government recognises the strength of feeling around the use and misuse of fireworks and has listened to the concerns raised in parliamentary debate and wider discussion. We receive representations from a wide range of stakeholders, including members of the public, organisations and charities, with wide-ranging views on what the issues are and what action they would like to see.
Following the Westminster Hall debate on 26 November 2018 regarding fireworks, the Minister with responsibility for fireworks policy and legislation in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kelly Tolhurst MP, asked the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to develop a fact-based evidence base on the key issues that had been raised. This includes looking for data around noise and disturbance, anti-social behaviour, non-compliance, environmental impact, and the impact on humans and animals. As part of this work we are considering the findings of the Scottish Government consultation on fireworks, which was published on 4th October. We will also consider the House of Commons Petitions Committee inquiry on fireworks once that has reported.
The aim of the evidence base is to build a full picture of the data around fireworks in order for government to identify whether there is a problem, and if so, what action – if any – is appropriate. This work will also help us identify trends across fireworks seasons and determine whether, there has (for example), been an increase in fireworks being set off or an increase in firework related injuries.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

How and why a firework licensing system could work

A government select committee, The Petitions Committee, carried out an extensive inquiry into fireworks, which ran from February to November 2019. The Committee asked for evidence on the balance and effectiveness of existing legislation, the role and safety of public and private displays, and the needs of particular groups (such as veterans and people with disabilities), and animals. They received written and oral evidence representing a range of stakeholders, including from members of the public, representative bodies, organisations and charities, all with varying views on fireworks.

The Committee’s final report, published on 5 November 2019, concluded that they could not support a ban on the public buying and using fireworks. Their reasoning for no further legislative action was varied.

The committee stated however, that the “inconsiderate and irresponsible” use of fireworks should be considered as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.

Considering this, FAB petitioned with a radical new approach which would overcome all the Government’s reasons not to change legislation.

2020 Petition

Limit the Sale and Use of Fireworks to Organisers of Licensed Displays Only

Current legislation allows for public use of fireworks 16 hours a day, every day, making it impossible for vulnerable groups to take precautions against the distress they can cause. Better enforcement of existing law is insufficient; limiting their sale & use to licensed displays only is necessary.

Restrictions on the sale & use of fireworks has huge public support and is backed by several human and animal charities. Limiting the sale & use of fireworks to displays only, by introducing licensing via local authorities, would help to protect vulnerable people and animals from the distress and anxiety caused by unexpected firework noise & pollution. Legislation that balances people’s desires for firework displays, and individual rights to not be distressed throughout the year, is needed now.

Click here to sign petition

HOW WE SEE THIS WORKING...

FAB firework campaign believe that ALL fireworks used in the UK should require the user to obtain a licence. This was also put forward by multiple MPs during the debate of petition number 276425 on 2nd November 2020.

The licence only needs to cost what it costs to process online. So a very small amount.

The licence will have to be shown and the number recorded when buying fireworks, from year round licensed firework retailers.  It has been suggested that supermarkets, corner shops etc stop selling them.

The process for obtaining a licence could be the same as alcohol/music licences. From the councils’ perspective, it would need to add a few more questions to the existing form.

The conditions of licence could include:

1. Insurance if in public space ie town fireworks, scouts, etc anywhere other than your own back garden.

2. Advertisements

3. A signed assurance to confirm the site intended to be used is big enough for fireworks and not close to a road/animal rescue/stables/field with animals etc.

THE BENEFITS which will counter the Committee’s reasoning for no further legislative action and the Government’s reply to the petition at 10,000 signatures:

1. There would be no effects on community groups and fundraising.

2. Firework sales will continue as before with no economic effect on the firework industry or its employees.

3. There will be no need for any concerns regarding black market sales, communities and cultural use.

Further benefits of a licensing system:

1.People who do not like fireworks for whatever reason will have advance notice and can take evasive action or prepare, likewise pet owners.

2. Unlike a ban, charities will be able to hold their events subject to the licensing conditions.

3. Fireworks could be tracked and traced if bar coded and recorded when sold.

4. One person would be held responsible should there be any infringement of the conditions.

5. Licences can be refused or revoked if necessary.

The firework industry is amongst the most highly regulated industries. However that is only true regarding manufacture/storage and sales. This new approach would also regulate the USE of fireworks.

Moreover,  it would allow firework use by those who enjoy them whilst allowing people and pet owners to prepare and not be taken by surprise.

AND FINALLY, from the Government reply.

The government has committed to take further action to promote the safe and considerate use of fireworks and the actions will include:

Developing a public awareness campaign on the safe use of fireworks;  

Public awareness campaigns do NOT cause changed behaviour in people, therefore some who enjoy fireworks will not consider their neighbours as some do not consider them now. Think seatbelts (had to be made law). Think guns/knives/acid/glue. No government awareness campaign works, so laws are needed.

Engaging with animal charities to further discuss their work related to animal welfare issues;

Animal charities cannot help the horses in the field scared by fireworks or dogs that slip their lead when random fireworks go off.

Engaging with Local Authorities to understand the issues they face with regard to fireworks;

Like many statutory agencies, Local Authorities will not have had many complaints regarding fireworks. One reason could be that there is no process by which to complain. Another reason could be that it is difficult to complain about something that is legal 16 hrs a day 365 days a year. Where would something legal be recorded?

Engaging with the fireworks industry to discuss any additional action they might take to address the concerns raised around fireworks packaging appealing to underage individuals.

These actions show that the Government has been listening to the concerns that have been raised about fireworks and that work is continuing.

We don’t believe the government has been listening. We don’t believe they understand about firework use at random times throughout the year. We don’t believe they have considered pet owners and people who are adversely affected by random fireworks.

So all in all, the Government reply was inadequate at best and based on incorrect supposition.

We shall carry on! Join or follow FAB, on Facebook on Twitter

LATEST PETITION from FAB

THE LONG AWAITED LATEST FIREWORK PETITION. from FAB

Please share to all your contacts.. if you can write something to put with it…like……. I know it is out of season but this will prove it is not a kneejerk reaction and we have problems all year with random fireworks. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/319891

Limit the Sale and Use of Fireworks to Organisers of Licensed Displays Only

Current legislation allows for public use of fireworks 16 hours a day, every day, making it impossible for vulnerable groups to take precautions against the distress they can cause. Better enforcement of existing law is insufficient; limiting their sale & use to licensed displays only is necessary.

Restrictions on the sale & use of fireworks has huge public support and is backed by several human and animal charities. Limiting the sale & use of fireworks to displays only, by introducing licensing via local authorities, would help to protect vulnerable people and animals from the distress and anxiety caused by unexpected firework noise & pollution. Legislation that balances people’s desires for firework displays, and individual rights to not be distressed throughout the year, is needed now.Sign this petition

Show on a map

At 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament

Remember to verify your signature in your emails.


We really need this on to blow their socks off so please do your best with this one.. It’s our best yet 😉

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/319891

New registration scheme may help.

A new registration scheme is being considered by North East Derbyshire District Council. In an attempt to regulate firework use they are asking the public to register if they are planning to use fireworks. It obviously won’t do anything to combat ‘misuse’, it might however help notify people and pet owners of the random and unexpected use by the public. Most community and local events are amply advertised for the revenue. So this a small step in the right direction. Please find time to thank the council for their forward thinking.

Their facebook posts says, “NEDDC is putting together plans to introduce a voluntary Bonfire and Firework Display Registration Scheme to combat the misuse of fireworks and safely regulate those attending bonfire events and wishing to let off fireworks in the District.” 

https://www.ne-derbyshire.gov.uk/news-and-media/latest-news/council-to-regulate-the-impact-of-fireworks-with-the-introduction-of-a-registration-scheme

Councils and MPs Pushing for Carbon Neutral, we Salute Thee. Please Restrict Fireworks as Part of Environmental Changes

According to the BBC, “The UK is the first major nation to formally back a pledge to cut carbon emissions to practically zero in just over 30 years. As well as clearing the air of harmful fumes, the scheme – according to one expert on climate change – will also have surprising knock-on effects for the population as a whole.” That’s great but as we hear, it needs to be much faster than 30 years. And per a news report today, Finland has halved that. “Finland has pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2035 – that’s twice as fast as the UK government target. But to achieve this, it will have to make big changes..” As will we all. We need dramatic and rapid attitudinal and behavioural changes from individuals, government, local councils and business to save the planet.

On the news last weekend, it was even more encouraging to hear that many UK cities, such as Glasgow, Birmingham, Oxford and other councils are themselves pledging to be carbon neutral far sooner than the UK government target. Good on them! It does need to be now! As we have seen this week at the World Economic Forum and you can see the speech yourself at this link, where Prince Charles said, we need a “paradigm shift”. “We simply cannot waste any more time. The only limit is our willingness to act. And the time to act is now.” People of the world, we need to radically change the way we live and behave – we need to stop our lives of convenience and start one of consideration for the environment and wildlife. There is also the global summit in Glasgow, so the UK will be in the spotlight. Many by 2030 – so in 10 years and some by 2028. Great. Let’s support them! 

One easy change is to stop throwing gasses, metals and chemicals into the air. To help our environment and protect our wildlife from dying of fear, we can massively reduce the use of fireworks. Many countries allow them only one day a year and yet the UK – embarrassingly allows them every day of the year! Shame on us. As per a blog we wrote on the environmental impact of fireworks, as well as one on how detrimental they are to protecting our wildlife, “One way we can [help the environment] is by stopping the use of fireworks, whose metals, gunpowder, chemicals and packaging pollute and damage our environment.” 

Just a few days ago, the Guardian wrote about the pollution from the London fireworks. “For four hours, the air was filled with tiny particles of the metals that are used to make firework colours. These included barium, copper and strontium that produce white, green, blue and red colours, along with potassium and chloride that are used as firework propellants. Air pollution from northern France also reached the city later in the day.” What is that doing to our lungs – the trees – and our own lungs, those of animals, birds, what is going into the river and then the ocean…?

So many other countries have far tighter regulations on fireworks usage than the UK and allow them only rarely. In many European countries, they can only be used on one or two days of the year. In Germany for example, “Shops are only allowed to sell fireworks, rockets, wheels or bangers in the time period from Dec. 28 to 31…” In the Netherlands too, they are banned all year apart from in special cases. The only day they are allowed is on New Year’s eve – and then only from 6pm until 2am.

So why oh why, does the UK, who is apparently one of the nations trying to limit its environmental impact, allow them ON EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR?! And without restriction?

Councils, government, please – you won’t be ruining people’s lives by reducing the amount they go off. And anyway, we are going to have to get used to far bigger changes to save the planet. People live quite happily in other countries without them! Fireworks are often shipped all the way over from China, the country with the highest carbon emissions. As per our blog and the Guardian article above, fireworks send toxins and metals into the environment. They scare birds, thousands of whom die by flying into stationary objects. We need to protect them. 

In this time of climate emergency, why not be like the Netherlands and ban them altogether, apart from rare circumstances? Or at least severely restrict them to a few days a year? Businesses will find other ways for people to have fun and fundraise! And one thing is for sure, we are going to have to make far bigger lifestyle changes than just stopping fireworks. And that’s the way competition and market forces work. It’s an easy step that doesn’t restrict our lives and that will improve the environment and the communities in which we live. 

We believe these may be some of the cities/councils going carbon neutral. Please write to your council and share this blog with them, particularly if they are one of those aiming to be carbon neutral – and if they aren’t why aren’t they. We are sure there are many more and would be happy to edit these as people find out more or less on this list. 

  • Nottingham
  • Bristol
  • Glasgow
  • City of York
  • Birmingham
  • Winchester – wants to look at how to reduce its carbon footprint
  • Exeter city
  • Manchester
  • Liverpool
  • Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, South Oxfordshire District Council
  • Edinburgh
  • Lambeth Council
  • Kensington & Chelsea

Other things you can do to help make a difference:

  • Share this blog in every group you are in on social media and in emails – particularly those not related to fireworks, to reach new audiences
  • There have been 3 debates and a Petitions Commitee inquiry which the UK government are expected to reply in 2020. Now is the time to write to your MP and ask them to push the government to take drastic action. Reduce the number of days to just a handful a year and ban the sale to the public.
  • Write to your councils asking them to change what they allow. You can use the RSPCA template to ask them to change which are allowed and share the blogs we have written
  • Ask your friends and neighbours not to let them off or if they insist, to at least use those with lower bang ratings – which are available among most fireworks sellers and those that do displays
  • Support petitions 
  • Record every firework you hear through the year. FAB are collating this information for your MP letters.
  • Read more blogs on the impacts of fireworks and share these too: Environmental impact, impact on wildlife, impact on war veterans and sufferers of PTSD and on assistance dogs

Let’s look forward to a world with cleaner air, less noise and more consideration for wildlife and our environment.

Images by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Birds Die, Horses Panic, Wildlife Suffers. Humans Setting off Fireworks Terrify and Kill.

Often when I mention to people about the many groups that are negatively impacted by fireworks, I’ll say, “Imagine all the wild animals when fireworks go off. They have no shelter – horses, sheep, hedgehogs, birds…It must be terrifying for them when there is no natural sound like this – and they have no warning..” And so many people say, “I hadn’t thought of that.” 

Well here’s to get us all thinking about that. Often as humans, we focus on actions that impact humans. With fireworks, the government will say they are set at a safe decibel range (which incidentally does not seem to be agreed is safe by hearing charities) – but of course this is for humans. Not animals, with whom we share the planet – and are all part of our ecosystem.

Here’s the summary for those that won’t read on, but others please do: Thousands of birds have died from heart attacks or through panic and flying into things, when fireworks go off. Horses have bolted, some impaled. Hedgehogs been tied to fireworks and shot into the air. We are in a climate emergency where we have already lost 60% of the UK’s wildlife population. It’s not only humans on this planet. Take action – write to your MP and town councillors, tell people not to do them, sign every petition.

So, for everyone that continued, here is what you need to know..

Animals have a far higher hearing range. Their hearing is far more sensitive than ours. Dogs for example, can hear sounds 4 times farther away than we can and higher pitch sounds too. Birds can hear a wider range of sounds than humans and have better resolution than human hearing, so they hear much more detail and what is not loud to us can be loud and clear to them. Our beloved hedgehogs, who already are struggling at a tiny percentage of population compared to what they were, according to Louisiana State University, “Have a hearing frequency range between 250 and 45,000 Hz…it’s much higher than the human range of 23,000 Hz.” So all those sounds that are ‘OK’ to us (but are not really ok, if you read our other blogs regarding humans impacted), are that much worse, terrifying and unknown for animals. Fireworks aren’t natural. The only vaguely similar natural sound in the wild is thunder and that doesn’t go as high, as loud, nor like gunshots and everything else under the moon. How confusing would that be to you, if you were out in nature happily tucked up for the night, when something like that goes off??

We are in a climate emergency. According to the State of Nature Report, and a Guardian article in Oct 2019, about it, “Populations of the UK’s most important wildlife have plummeted by an average of 60% since 1970, according to the most comprehensive analysis to date…A quarter of UK mammals and nearly half of the birds assessed are at risk of extinction.” And apparently there are no signs of this getting better. Doesn’t this highlight that we humans need to protect the delicate habitat in which we live? Everything comes together – the different species need each other in the ecosystem. Stopping fireworks is one easy way!

So how are animals affected by fireworks – and particularly wildlife?

Let’s take a look at birds. Fireworks scare birds. Let’s not mess about with it. And particularly in winter, birds roost together on the cold nights. When fireworks go off they panic. Some research was done in the Netherlands on this and an article in Forbes refers to the impact on birds, of fireworks. “When a fireworks display occurs near a wild bird roost, the birds simultaneously explode into the night skies in utter panic, which can lead to huge numbers of deaths, usually because these birds either smash their skulls or break their necks as the result of flying into trees, fences, billboards, houses and other solid objects that they cannot see in the gloom and ensuing chaos. Probably the most infamous example of massive bird deaths after a fireworks display were the 5,000+ dead or dying red-winged blackbirds that rained down from the skies onto the small Arkansas town of Beebe in 2010, leading some residents to fear an impending apocalypse.” How dreadful. Half of birds are disappearing and we do this to them – and for no real benefit to us other than a few minutes’ ‘entertainment’? Aren’t their lives valuable, each and every one? We can find other ways to be entertained when lives are at risk. In Prague, they banned fireworks in the city centre, as swans were dying from heart attacks because of them. A friend from Prague said how awful it was to see birds lying dead on the ground in the morning after fireworks. 

A town in England – Bideford, after many complaints and petitions, did decide to change its plans for fireworks in order to protect roosts of starlings in 2019/2020. Good on you Bideford council. 

Horses are often very scared by fireworks and there are many examples of horses that have bolted and then been injured or worse, died because of fireworks. There was one example reported, just this last year at fireworks. The horse, Harry tried to bolt when it heard fireworks and impaled itself on the fence. A document on fireworks by the British Horse Society says, “Horses are flight animals and anything unexpected will startle them. The response will vary greatly according to the individual horse, but reactions can be extremely dramatic and potentially dangerous for the horse or anyone close by. [Fireworks] produce loud bangs, crackles, sudden strange lights and a burning smell.”

Apart from the sounds, in 2019, we saw some horrifying examples and images of hedgehogs being tied to fireworks and then set off. Disgusting. Fireworks containing gunpowder are a weapon. And in the wrong hands and the general public, can be used and abused very badly. In many countries around the world, they are only allowed on new year’s eve and only with tight regulations. Yet in the UK, they are allowed every night of the year, hounding our animals with terrifying sounds, smells and in some cases the parts of the fireworks coming down on them. It’s time to change the laws, limit the number of days they are allowed on, reduce the decibels of those that are let off and ban the sale to the public. It’s gone ridiculous now. Weddings, celebrations, showing off your money, letting off lights at Christmas, leaving the EU – any reason to let off a firework. It’s ridiculous. It’s selfish – for humans such as sufferers of PTSD, war veterans, those with hyperacusis, dementia and more – and for animals – pets and wildlife – and for the environment as we throw toxins into the air. 

OK humans. Want to be responsible for this planet? What can you do? 

  • Share this blog in every group you are in on social media and in emails – particularly those not related to fireworks, to reach new audiences
  • There have been 3 debates and a petitions inquiry and now the UK government is due to review what to do in 2020. Now is the time to write to your MP and ask them to push the government to take drastic action. Reduce the number of days to just a handful a year and ban the sale to the public.
  • Write to your councils asking them to change what they allow. As you can see in Bideford, they can do this. Push. You can use the RSPCA template to ask them to change which are allowed
  • Ask your friends and neighbours not to let them off or if they insist, to at least use those with lower bang ratings – which are available among most fireworks sellers and those that do displays
  • Support petitions 
  • Record every firework you hear through the year
  • Read more blogs on the impacts of fireworks and share these too: Environmental impact, impact on war veterans and sufferers of PTSD and on assistance dogs

Assistance Dogs and Humans – a Great Partnership – until Humans let off Fireworks that Cause Distress to Dogs

According to Assistance Dogs UK, “Over 7,000 disabled people in the UK rely on an assistance dog to help with practical tasks – offering emotional support and independence.” These include guide dogs for the blind, hearing dogs for deaf people, assistance in disability and medical detection dogs. Additionally to the fully trained ones, many dogs support children with autism, people with dementia and people with mental health problems. 

In so many ways, dogs improve people’s wellbeing, health and make them less socially isolated. And yet despite all that they do for humans, we repay them by regularly letting off fireworks that cause distress to at least half of them. The latest obsession with fireworks is now throughout December, when people may go with all the family, including the dog member of the family, to a switch on the Christmas lights event. One lady went with her dog and fireworks were unknowingly let off, leaving the dog in fear of going out for weeks after. 

Most pet owners know of the terrible distress caused to animals because of fireworks. They don’t know what is happening, their hearing is more sensitive than ours and their fear can last for hours and days. All for a few minutes of very environmentally unfriendly chemicals and toxins thrown into the air for the sake of ‘fun’. 

An example of how this impacts someone who depends on her assistance dog, in order to live life as normally as possible, is Ellen Watson. Ellen works as a clerk in the House of Commons and shared a video of her lovely labrador, Skipp, shaking with fear after the colourful rockets went off when they were out walking. The fireworks went off in the late afternoon the day before bonfire night and left Skipp rooted to the ground, shaking with fear and Ellen’s safety was at risk. 

“This is my Guide Dog, on our way home from work at 5pm, rooted to the spot & shaking with fear after fireworks went off nearby. Not only do fireworks cause extreme distress for dogs & humans, they pose risk to disabled ppls safety. This has to stop. Fireworks NEED to be regulated pic.twitter.com/yAJs8rJZJV

For Ellen, who is deaf blind after being diagnosed with Usher Syndrome, in order to fit around people’s random letting off of fireworks, Ellen had to change her work schedule and get home early on the days around fireworks. The challenge nowadays, is that these go on for months and now as per the example with Christmas lights, they are even in December and New Year – sometimes even Christmas Day. Shouldn’t society encompass everyone within it and be considerate of the needs of all? How wrong that Ellen has had to modify her life – which is already massively modified compared to how it was – in order to accommodate a few people letting off fireworks. We really need to start being more considerate. The general public needs to become more aware and therefore considerate of the impact of their actions.

At least half of pets, PLUS animals out in fields with no shelter are impacted by fireworks. Per our previous blogs, people with PTSD can suffer from them, as does the environment, through toxins and chemicals thrown into the air. It’s time to ban the sale of fireworks to the public in consideration of pets, assistance dogs, their humans, sufferers of PTSD and the environment. There are kinder, more considerate ways to celebrate and have fun. We don’t need to let them off at every opportunity – and particularly spontaneously when no one is prepared for them. 

So when you are organising Christmas lights, New Year, or a wedding, please consider the substantial number of people impacted by your desire to celebrate – and whether it’s worth it, for the few minutes of pleasure you have. If you know people organising any of the above, please ask them not to let off fireworks in consideration for most people who are against them. This obsession with fireworks at everything damages our world, the animals and many humans that live in it. Please be considerate.

85% of the British Public is Worried about Climate Change – yet we Assault the Environment with Chemicals and Metals from Fireworks…eh…?

Seems a bit of a contradiction…that we are concerned about the environment, yet we shoot metals, gases and chemicals into the environment. Friends of the Earth recently stated, “A new poll reveals that 85% of us, the British public, are worried about climate change. The urgency and concern rises year-on-year as time slips away to save our planet.”  Sir David Attenborough says we face, “Irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies ….It may sound frightening, but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies.” On 1 May 2019, the UK Parliament declared a climate emergency, making the UK the first country to do so.

Michael Gell has been in touch with FAB about the impact of fireworks on the environment. Michael has a long and impressive wealth of experience in science and the environment, which you can read more about.Over the years, he has provided expert advice on national environmental pilot programmes and design and operation of greenhouse gas disclosure platforms. In 2009 he was a member of the World Economic Forum Task Force on Low Carbon Economic Prosperity. In his blogs, which warn of the environmental emergency we are in, he says that we are at a key decision time for humankind. We can either carry on how we are and destroy the planet and cause lots of suffering for humans and animals. Or we can radically change the way we live – across all areas of life – and have a chance of saving the one planet we all share. Now is our last chance. 

If you find the reality of the environmental situation we are in disturbing and depressing, the good news is that IF we change, according to Michael, we do have a chance. “The choice being faced is …to choose uninhabitability of the earth, or to mobilise and make a sharp turn by slamming the brakes on greenhouse gas emissions, putting a stop on the ransacking and poisoning of the earth and designing and building the necessary systems (technological, economic, behavioural, social, etc) in a last chance pitch for survival.” 

And for those of you that won’t read further – one way we can do that is by stopping the use of fireworks, whose metals, gunpowder, chemicals and packaging pollute and damage our environment. It’s an easy decision. For everyone else, please read on. It’s important. 

Michael explains that there are different bodies or people that impact change – central government, local government, industries and citizens for example. The good news for us all is that citizens can drive the changes that governments and industries need to make – and already for example, people eating less meat is forcing businesses to produce more plant-based food.  Just look at the supermarkets, how their shelves are filling with the new products. They are being led by citizens.

So we have 10 years to make many of the changes that are necessary. And right here, right now, we could easily remove a pollutant – fireworks – and find more environmentally friendly ways to have fun and celebrate – one for you to think about the next time you are thinking of letting that firework off – at your wedding, party or new year celebration – just consider the impact you are having on the future of our planet. An article in BBC Science Focus says, “Though beautiful, fireworks pollute the atmosphere so may not be the most green choice of entertainment.” 

The article states, “Fireworks propel a cocktail of chemicals into the atmosphere, many of which can harm both people and the environment. The vivid colours in firework displays come from metallic compounds such as barium or aluminium that can have negative impacts on animal and human health.” It goes on to explain that in order to create an explosion, you need a lot of oxygen, so many fireworks contain oxidisers known as perchlorates. These can contaminate rivers, lakes and drinking water. If our rivers and lakes are contaminated, that affects anything living in, dependent on or drinking from the river. Fish, ducks, swans, deer and more. And the water goes downstream and into our oceans, carrying the problem even further.

Michael Gell points out that a DEFRA report acknowledged the impact of fireworks. “Best estimates of emissions of air pollutants from use of fireworks are as follows: Copper 2.8 tonnes (6% of emissions in 2000), Potassium 100 tonnes (9.3% of emissions in 2000), Sodium 5.5 tonnes (0.5% of emissions in 2000), Magnesium 73 tonnes (7.6% of emissions in 2000), Barium 65 tonnes, Strontium 9.9 tonnes, Aluminium 86 tonnes, Titanium 5.3 tonnes, Carbon dioxide 160 tonnes (trivial), Carbon monoxide 120 tonnes (trivial)”. This was over 10 years ago and fireworks have increased exponentially since then. It is worth noting that climate emissions are also associated with the extended lifecycle of fireworks – from manufacturing (often in China), shipping, sales and of course emissions from emergency, health, veterinary and other (e.g. building repair) services required to address the aftermath of their use.

The Scottish government’s Safer Communities Directorate has in October this year, published information on the impact of fireworks – on health, the environment and noise effects: “Short term health effects may include asthma attacks, coughs, fever and severe asthma, and even pneumonia (Hirai et al., 2000). Longer term health effects may also include respiratory and cardiovascular system diseases, and an increased risk of cancer. …High build-up of metal elements through both fine and coarse particulate matter in the body can adversely affect human health.” If it does this to humans – where more time and effort on research is spent, think what it is doing to all the wildlife breathing in the air we pollute for them? And what all of that is doing to plants, water, trees that protect us…

The Directorate says, “There is some evidence from outwith Scotland to suggest that restricting firework use could benefit the environment by reducing pollution from fireworks emissions as well as secondary fires.” Repeat – we are in a climate emergency – and restricting fireworks would benefit the environment by reducing pollution. Got it? They are not good. We can live without them. No brainer.

An ITV article on 5th November 2019 also refers to the toxicity of fireworks. “Bonfires and fireworks send November 5 air pollution levels soaring, study suggests.” It refers to a study where thousands of sensors take readings of particulate matter. “A study in Newcastle and Gateshead found that in 2018, pollution levels were four times higher in the evening of Bonfire Night than they were earlier in the day.” We already have issues with our air quality, and yet the article states, the pollution levels rise to “Eight times the World Health Organisation’s recommended safe limit of 10 micrograms/m3.” 

Do I need to go on? We are in a crucial point in the history of our earth, when every one of us can make a difference by our decisions, behaviours and actions. And for our consciences, we have to. Fireworks pollute the air, the particles release metallic substances and chemicals into the environment, covering our trees, going into our rivers and lakes and into oceans – contaminating the world we live in – that we have 10 years to protect. Isn’t it time to simply remove this pollutant and stop letting off fireworks?  In 2019 Sainsbury’s became the first major supermarket to stop selling fireworks at its 2,300 stores across the UK.  Given that the UK government has declared a climate and ecological emergency, wouldn’t a sensible action be to ban fireworks…

It’s time for we human beings to be drastically more considerate of the environment, stop abusing it and the natural world. To stop behaving like nothing else is impacted by our actions. It’s time to be considerate and ban fireworks! 

The Fireworks Campaign (FAB) is releasing a series of blogs and images on the impact of fireworks. You can find out more and read about the effects of fireworks on war veterans and other PTSD sufferers and please share these with anyone you know, to help spread the awareness of their dreadful impact.