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May 9th 2018

Fireworks Categorisation - F1 vs F2 vs F3 vs F4

This article was updated on 17th October

Different Firework Categories: Comparison Table

Category F1 Fireworks F2 Fireworks F3 Fireworks F4 Fireworks
Example Use Indoors Garden Displays Large Displays Professional Displays
Hazard Level Very Low Low Medium High
Noise Level Very Low Low Medium High
For Consumers Yes Yes Yes No
Advised Standing Distance 1m* 15m 25m N/A
Max Debris Distance 1m* 8m 15m N/A
Fuse Delay N/A 3-8 seconds 5-13 seconds N/A

*Table doesn't reflect CE Cat 1 Fireworks such as those in selection boxes that would require a standing distance of 8m

There are 4 key firework categories enforceable by law within the UK - F1, F2, F3 and F4. These have been designed to:

  • Ensure safety for the general public
  • Prohibit the use of fireworks by people who aren’t trained to use them

This essential legislation means that there are some fireworks which are only suitable for professional displays. To help you understand the differences between the various categories, we’ve put together this handy FAQ guide.

Which Firework Classifications Are Suitable For Consumers?

Consumers are able to purchase category 1, category 2 and category 3 fireworks. Whilst you are able to buy fireworks that have been deemed suitable for these categories, it’s still important to remember that you must take all the necessary precautions to maximise safety.

Category 3 fireworks, for example, have been designed to be fired in large open spaces. You must ensure the space within which you want to set off your fireworks is suitable.

What Are Category F1 Fireworks?

Fireworks receive an F1 classification if they are intended for use inside domestic buildings or confined areas. F1 fireworks are deemed to present a very low hazard to those using them.

As stated on the graphic, there are oocasional instances where selection box fireworks may fall within CE Cat 1. In cases such as this, fireworks naturally need to be fired outside with a standing distance of 8m. 

What’s the Difference Between 1.3g/1.4g Fireworks & Category F3/F4 Fireworks?

All fireworks are given a UN classification number, which is necessary for transport and packaging purposes. This is where the 1.3g or 1.4g firework mark comes from.  On consumer fireworks, the 1.3 or 1.4g mark is placed on an orange label for clarity.

Fireworks can also receive a 1.1g classification. This is reserved for the most hazardous of fireworks.

When fireworks are being classified as 1.1g, 1.3g or 1.4g, they are done so based on how hazardous they are, rather than how powerful they are. Dangerous chemicals and flash-powder tend to play a key role in this.

Why Can’t Category F4 Fireworks Be Purchased By Consumers?

Category F4 fireworks can only be used by professionals, as they are extremely dangerous without the right training. Sometimes referred to as industrial fireworks, they are banned for sale to the public.

Who Decides the Firework Categories?

Firework categorisation in the UK is enforceable by law and laid out in the Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2015. Fireworks must comply with European safety standards.

How Do I Confirm A UK Firework’s Classification?

All fireworks for sale in the UK must carry a CE mark to show that they are safe. The mark also confirms that these fireworks comply with European safety standards.

What Are the Firing Distances for Each Category?

The old BS7114 label that used to designate firework safety was abolished fully from 3rd July 2017. Under new safety rules, all fireworks  imported and created for sale in the European market must now be marked with CE standards. The new rules break down as follows:

Category 1 (typically Indoor Fireworks): Fireworks within this category must see you light and retire to at least 1 metre. They must also not drop debris beyond 1 metre.

Category 2 (typically Garden Fireworks): Fireworks within this category must see you light and retire to at least 8 metres. Spectators must be at least 8 metres away, although 15m is advisable. They must also not drop debris beyond 8 metres.

Category 3 (typically Display Fireworks): For fireworks within this category, it would be advisable to light and retire to at least 25 metres. Spectators must be at least 15 metres away and debris must not be dropped beyond 15 metres.

Firing distance information should be specified on the fireworks you purchase and some F3 fireworks require a slightly shorter standing/debris distance.

What Do CE Standards Dictate As Compliance For Fuses?

In addition to the new distance regulations enforced from 3rd July 2017, there are also fuse delay requirements that fireworks must satisfy to comply with CE Standards:

Category 2 Fireworks: The fuse delay should last for 3-8 seconds.

Category 3 Fireworks: The fuse delay should last for 5-13 seconds.

Are There Age Restrictions?

Regardless of the category of fireworks you wish to purchase, you can only do so if you are 18 years of age or older. This extends to the purchase of sparklers, which are also classified as fireworks in their own right.

Where Can I Learn More?

If you’re thinking of putting on your own display, you can find much for information in our display safety guide.