Bonfires - FAQs

Answers to questions you might have about bonfires.

Coronavirus update

Firefighters across South Yorkshire are asking people to pledge not to have a garden fire during the on-going Coronavirus pandemic due to a huge spike in garden fires since the outbreak started.

The fire service has also been contacted by a number of residents who have found it hard to physically leave their homes to exercise, due to the smoke coming from local garden fires where people have been burning garden and household waste.

What can I do instead of having a garden bonfire?

There are three options which are all more environmentally friendly and much less dangerous:

  • compost your kitchen and garden waste; this will create a useful soil conditioner
  • shred your waste. Once the waste is shredded it is ready for composting or mulching
  • store your waste temporarily - once coronavirus restrictions are lifted the Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRC) will reopen throughout the borough where Doncaster residents can go, free of charge, and recycle their household waste

Is there a law on having garden bonfires?

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 it is an offence to cause a statutory nuisance and this includes nuisances that are created by bonfires. If a neighbour is having a regular bonfire and it is affecting your well-being, comfort or enjoyment of your property then it will be considered as a nuisance. You can approach your neighbours to tell them about your concerns but if you feel you are unable to do this you can contact the Public Health Team on 01302 737573 or report via the link below. In the worst-case scenarios, your neighbours can be fined up to £5000

I want to have a private bonfire. Are there any rules that I need to follow?

With any bonfire, it should be built at least 18 metres away from any buildings, trees or fences etc. They should be no more than three metres high and should not be built under power cables. To start a bonfire you should not use petrol or any other flammable liquid. Children and animals should be kept away from the bonfire at all times and before starting the bonfire you need to check it for children who could be making a den inside of it. The best advice to give you is to attend an organised bonfire event.

How do I set up an organised bonfire and firework display?

It is always best to plan ahead as organising bonfires and firework displays can be a lot of work. Maybe it would be best to set up a committee and then members can each take responsibility for a particular task. Make sure fire extinguishers, buckets of water, buckets of sand and metal litter bins are available throughout the night. First aid kits are a must as well. Ensure that you have plenty of torches available, all with new batteries. Make it known to spectators that they cannot bring their own fireworks and that this includes sparklers. It is also best to check that you are insured to cover any firework related injuries.

A community guide to organising bonfires and fireworks has been published by the Department for Communities and Local Government:

A community guide to organising bonfires and fireworks
Download (289KB)

Where would be the best place to hold an organised bonfire and firework display?

The location should be large, clear from any obstructions and have well mown grass, along with as many safe entrances and exits as possible. You need to allow at least 50m x 20m for your firing area and beyond this you will need a dropping zone for used fireworks to land. This must be at least 100m x 50m and in the downwind direction. Spectators should stand at the opposite side to the dropping zone and at least 25 metres away from the firing zone.

Can you give me any tips on how to plan my organised bonfire and fireworks display and also how I can achieve proper crowd control?

It is always best to arrange for some stewards to patrol the area and make sure that everything and everyone is safe. Smoking should not be allowed near the bonfire. Designated smoking areas, away from the bonfire and any fireworks, would be safer. Always read the instructions carefully on the fireworks by using a torch and not matches or lighters. Make sure that the wind blows away from the spectators and that the display is also angled away from them.

The following document should be used to obtain further information about organised bonfires and firework displays:

Firework safety
Download (129KB)

What's the law on fireworks?

There are no current legal restrictions on when you are allowed to buy fireworks. However there is a code of practice that states:

‘Fireworks should only be sold between October 15 and November 10, and for a similar period around New Year.’

You should also know that:

  • It is illegal to sell fireworks to anyone under the age of 18. This comes under the Fireworks Safety Regulation 1997.
  • It is an offence to keep fireworks (apart from those for private use) on premises that have not been registered.
  • If fireworks are being used for private use, the individual can keep them for up to 14 days as long as they are in a safe place.

Throwing or setting off fireworks in the street is an offence. If caught, a fixed penalty of £80 will be issued. Police can now enforce a fixed penalty notice to anyone under 18 carrying a firework and for breach of the 11pm curfew on letting off fireworks.

Fireworks are not permitted to be set off between 11pm and 7am. There are however extensions for the following festivals: 

  • until 1.00am on the night of the Chinese New Year
  • until 1.00am on the night of Diwali
  • until 1.00am on New Year's Eve
  • until midnight on November 5

If a breach of curfew occurs, there is a penalty of up to £5,000 or six months imprisonment.

Please use the following link for more information on firework safety and the law: fireworks and the law  

Contact us

For further information, please contact us: 

Last updated: 21 April 2020 12:07:29