Fireworks over the crowd at night

Step-by-step: fireworks display

A bonfire and fireworks event promises a big audience and big returns. This guide aims to make sure your night goes off with a bang!

A PTA bonfire and firework event can make a spectacular family fundraiser, but having the support of the school is essential. Offer them the reassurance they need by making sure that your event adheres to all health and safety requirements, and by having a team in place to thoroughly clear the field the next day.

Safety considerations

  • Review your insurance cover and contact your current provider to address any stipulations.

  • Ensure you have enough space. Both the bonfire and fireworks display should be a minimum of 100 metres from any third party buildings (this includes the school). Spectators need to be at least 25 metres from the firework area. More details on 'Organising a Firework Display', can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website.

  • Decide whether to use a third party firework display company. Check with your school what level of public liability insurance they need and ask to see a copy.

  • If running the event yourself, only use fireworks supplied by a reputable manufacturer and adhere to all instructions. You will need to appoint a fully-trained health and safety officer.

  • Specify that no sparklers are to be brought on site.

  • Consult with the police and fire brigade authorities at least seven days before the event.

  • You will need qualified first aiders on site. Enlist the support of St John Ambulance. Let them know how many people you expect to attend - they will provide the required number of first aiders.

  • You are required to have one steward for every 250 spectators.

  • You will need to complete a risk assessment - your Local Authority can provide guidance.

  • Inform neighbours to ensure that pets are kept safely indoors.

What you'll need

  • Ask families and businesses to donate wood* for the bonfire.

  • As a minimum, provide your medics, lead steward, gate security and firework provider with two-way radios.

  • Have a PA system or loud speaker in case safety instructions need to be given.

  • All stewards should be wearing high-visibility jackets and have torches.

  • You'll also need safety items such as fire extinguishers, site lighting and barricade fencing.

*NOTE: Please be aware that pallets or other wood that has been marked/branded with the letters MB should not be burned, as it has been treated with Methyl Bromide, which when burnt, releases toxic smoke dangerous to you and the environment.

Costs and profits

  • Sell tickets in advance and adopt a ticket-only policy on the gate. Keep queues to a minimum on the night by having printed wristbands as tickets - ask guests to wear them on arrival. Research the cost of other displays in your area and price tickets accordingly, ensuring you cover your costs.

  • Have stalls selling glow sticks and include a BBQ. Tea, coffee, beer and mulled wine will all be welcome, but a licence is required if selling alcohol - read our FAQs feature on TENs for more details

Volunteers needed

  • You'll need around 10-15 stewards and many more volunteers to staff the gate and to run stalls.

Publicising the event

  • Publicise the event well in advance around the school as well as in local shops, libraries community centres, etc.

  • Issue a media release to local papers and radio stations.

For more information

  • There are several issues to consider relating to insurance, licences, etc. See our Event Planning Checklist for more detail.

  • For our at-a-glance guide to Temporary Event Notices, click here

The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on the guidance provided.

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