Residents and retailers in County Durham are being advised to stay safe in the run up to this year’s Bonfire Night festivities.
Any premises storing explosives and fireworks must be either licenced by Durham County Council for year round sales or licensed for storage for sales over the restricted periods covering Bonfire Night, Christmas and New Year as well as Chinese New Year and Diwali festivals.
Officers from the council’s trading standards team visit retailers in the run up to each firework period to ensure correct storage and CE (European Conformity) compliant products are on sale.
Failure to store explosives and fireworks safely can put lives and property at risk, and can also affect the insurance for business premises.
Joanne Waller, head of environment, health and consumer protection said, “We want everyone to enjoy the firework period and act responsibly, both retailers and customers.
“Retailers must only sell to people over 18 and must store fireworks in an appropriately safe manner.
“Consumers are advised to handle and use the fireworks they buy with care, by keeping them out of the reach of children and by following all the safety instructions supplied with them.
“Our officers will be visiting traders in the run up to November, inspecting storage arrangements and products on sale ensuring compliance with the law and offering advice to retailers.
“We also monitor online sales of goods, including fireworks to identify people who may be illegally storing and selling fireworks via social media.”
Traders must also adhere to their legal obligation regarding the sales of fireworks to under-18s.
Traders found to be breaking the law and selling to underage customers face investigation and prosecution.
Changes in the law in recent months have meant that all fireworks sold since 5 July have to bear the CE mark denoting conformity with safety standards.
Retailers and other distributors must ensure that any residual stock and any new incoming stocks are CE marked, as it is an offence to sell non-compliant products.
If traders find themselves with no compliant stocks, they must contact their suppliers to arrange the safe return of the products.
If they are unable to do so, traders can then contact Durham Trading Standards for further advice.
Strict controls also exist as to the correct storage of fireworks and other products classed as explosives.
Generally, retailers are able to store up to 250kg on their premises in appropriate containers.
Amounts above these limits up to 2,000kg are subject to additional requirements in approved places.
Anyone with concerns or information as to illegal storage of fireworks or under age sales being made should report the matter to the Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.