Fireworks Categorisation - F1 vs F2 vs F3 vs F4
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.
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The F3 classification is slightly wrong, quite a number of F3 products state that Spectators must be at least 25 metres away, firer must retire to 15 metres. This is indicated on the labels and packaging of most F3 fireworks.\n\nOn F2 fireworks there are two sets of safety distances according to their power and fusing : -\n\nsome F2 fireworks state, \n\na) SPECTATORS MUST BE AT LEAST 8 METRES AWAY, and this would naturally apply to the majority of selection box fireworks and quite a few multishot cakes and barrages (up to a ridiculous 30mm bore size!) and some powerful rockets / fountains / mines / wheels / compound fireworks, \n\nexcept b) for some selection boxes and packs of fireworks and single fireworks that produce slightly more powerful effects where this would be stated on the labels and / or packaging i.e. Spectators must be at least 15 metres away, firer must retire to 8 metres away.\n\nOn the powerful 8m fireworks, it is recommended that you should increase spectator distance to 15 metres, because these are ridiculously powerful and could be possibly dangerous if viewed at 8 metres away.\n\nThere is also an anomaly with outdoor consumer fireworks as well, where if the NEC (net explosive content) falls below a certain level on a firework, particularly applicable to small selection box fireworks, then this automatically falls to CE Cat 1 and this peculiarity also puts those fireworks at a ridiculous 1 metre spectator safety distance which is most unsafe particularly with small crackling fountains and to stand 1 metre away is to put the user and audience at most risk, if you get this in a selection box, the safest thing to do is stand 8 metres away along with your audience just to be on the safe side.
Hi Anthony – thanks for your comment/feedback. \n\nFor the F2 fireworks, we do have a more comprehensive, detailed look at the different variations here - https://www.galacticfireworks.co.uk/pages/display-safety-guide - but for the purpose of the summary article image we went with the greater distance on the graphic, as no harm to encourage people to err on the side of caution. The article does already clarify that the standing distance can vary within the copy.\n\nWith the F1 fireworks, the graphic was to reflect indoor sparklers/fireworks used indoors – but we will add a note as you are correct about the CE Cat 1 outdoor fireworks that may fall into that category. \n\nThe misprint on the F3 fireworks has been updated to 25m (typo here).\n