All fireworks on sale to the public have to be extensively tested and classified as either Category F2 or F3. These classifications also impose a noise limit, outline how much space should be given when using them, and ensure the firework has a safety fuse and clear instructions on the label.
- Category F1 refers to fireworks which pose a minimal hazard and this classification is usually given to indoor fireworks
- Category F2 items (sometimes known as garden fireworks) require the smallest distance, which is eight metres or 15 metres
- Category F3 items (sometimes known as display fireworks) require the greatest distance which is at least 25 metres.
Not all fireworks in these categories will be suitable for every garden. It is vital to check the distances required and all of the instructions on Category F2 and F3 fireworks as it may not be possible to meet the distance requirements in a domestic garden.
- Category F4 fireworks (sometimes known as industrial fireworks) are for professional use only at organised displays. These can include aerial shells and other items banned for sale to the public. Many category F4 fireworks are supplied without a fuse and are extremely dangerous to the untrained. If you are not a licensed professional and you are offered Category F4 fireworks, these are being sold to you illegally.
In Northern Ireland, you cannot purchase category F2, F3 or F4 fireworks unless you hold a fireworks licence. The licence application form is only available from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the appropriate fee must be paid before the licence is issued – find more information on fireworks licences.