Thoughts from Cuckoo HQ
21
Nov 14

Fireworks Are Explosives. Treat Them As Such.

A lot of people don't realise that fireworks are explosives. They can be very dangerous when operated by inexperienced people and, what's even more worrying, is that there are usually a lot of children around for 'amateur' fireworks displays.

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This is Mags' first blog post for us since joining us recently. 

Mags is an experienced and qualified Health & Safety professional, regularly working in operational, management and consultancy capacities for the past 13 years.

She specialises in large-scale sporting and music events as well as bespoke training and consultancy across many industries. She works regularly as an Event Controller or Safety Officer and also consult on a wide range of projects. 

Having established and run her own business, Health & Safety Essentials, for many years, she joined Cuckoo Events in 2014. She is a Division Head with primary responsibility for Training & Planning Development.

Mags knows her stuff and has seen the good, the bad and the very ugly in the events world.

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Answer me this

If someone were to tell you that there was an explosive in your back garden with an ignition / flame source very close and time was ticking would you. . . 

  • Contact a competent person to look after it.
  • Stay put and hope for the best.
  • Run to the back garden & bring your children with you….oh and all your neighbours and their children too.

How many of you chose OPTION C above?

I’m guessing (and really hoping!) not many of you did.

Now how many of you had a firework display in your back garden a few weeks ago?

How many of you bought the fireworks for it from a reputable source? 

Or did you just head to the fireworks display thinking ”Sure, the kids will love it.”

I've seen it go wrong

I have had the pleasure of working at some events where there were fantastic fireworks (pyrotechnics) displays and personally I love watching the colours and different movements of fireworks.

I am lucky to have seen very well prepared and managed displays.

In recent years I have also seen some shockingly poor and outright dangerous ‘displays’, which, both professionally and personally, make my blood boil.

Last Halloween when out trick-or-treating with my young daughter I walked into a local estate where they were using the common green area, which is about 80% surrounded by houses, to launch fireworks.

Lo-and-behold the operator set up a part of the display incorrectly and instead of going UP, as they are supposed to, the fireworks shot off ACROSS the Green, lit and at high speeds.

Thankfully the only thing damaged was property and not any of the children gathered with their families. 

A near miss

Last Halloween a neighbour knocked on my door to ask “Mags, can I just check something with you? The instructions say direct the fireworks at the crowd. Is that right?”

I didn't reply immediately. I was waiting for him to laugh and tell me he got me. That didn't happen. 

Is it just me or do the general public really not understand the dangers of fireworks?

Some advice

  • All pyrotechnics are a form of explosives.
  • The best known and most common types of pyrotechnics are what we all call 'fireworks'.
  • Legally, fireworks should only be operated by a competent person.
  • The average garden is not big enough for a fire work display. Especially considering on average there should be a minimum exclusion zone of a 30m radius around the launch site (or as per the manufacturers’ instructions).
  • A sparkler gets hotter than cooking oil. Would you put your child’s hand near that?
  • There are different types of fireworks for different environments - indoor, outdoor, arena etc.
  • Fireworks can affect people and things in the immediate vicinity and in the 'fall out area' (where the debris lands).
  • Despite proper planning, fireworks debris can land elsewhere (for example, if the wind shifts significantly) and can injure animals and cause visibility issues for drivers

The bottom line

I am all for the pretty fireworks but I also realise the dangers they can pose and acknowledge there is a safe way to enjoy them.

We work on events involving fireworks displays regularly. Examples include NYE 2013 in Limerick, a private Halloween Charity event and the Brian Boru events in Swords this year. 

The thing is they're always run by competent, experienced and insured professional suppliers and monitored by Event Safety professionals like ourselves. 

See this link for some further guidance from the Government.

 
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