Act now for fairer fireworks

fireworkssParliament is going to be debating our current fireworks regulations on Monday 29 January. This is welcome news to everyone who’s concerned about the considerable negative effects that fireworks can have on animal welfare.

We’re urging MPs to attend the debate, and support changes to the laws that regulate fireworks – preventing the unnecessary fear and suffering that they can cause to animals.

Why fireworks aren’t fun for everyone

The sudden loud noises and bright flashing lights that most of us associate with fireworks, can be very frightening for many animals. It’s estimated that 45 percent of dogs show signs of fear when they hear fireworks. And animals can end up injured when they run and hide from the fireworks too.

And it’s not just our pets who suffer when the fireworks are out, livestock can be startled, and are at risk of injuring themselves on fencing or the fixtures within their housing. Wildlife are also likely to be distressed by the explosive noise and light. And the debris which the fireworks leave behind could pose a risk to any animal who comes across them.

Over the last seven years we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of people calling our emergency line, worried about the effect that fireworks are having on the animals around them.

What laws are currently in place?

The Fireworks Act 2003 and the Fireworks Regulations 2004 were introduced over a decade ago with the aim of reducing the noise, nuisance and injuries caused by the misuse of fireworks across England, Wales and Scotland.

The current main regulations are:

  • A curfew so that fireworks can’t be used between 11pm and 7am, although there are some exceptions for New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali.
  • A ban on fireworks with a noise level exceeding 120 decibels being sold to the public. 120 decibels is still louder than an automatic drill or car horn, and comparable to the noise of a jet engine taking off!
  • A ban on selling fireworks outside of the special holiday dates listed above, unless the sale is licensed by the relevant Local Authority, Fire Service or Health and Safety Executive.

Although this legislation was a good start, we’d like to see it go further to protect the welfare of the animals around us.

Making fireworks fairer for animals

We’re supporting calls for three important amends to be made to our current firework regulations, and we hope that they will be raised in the debate on 29 January. These are:

  • Restricting the use of fireworks to the agreed traditional dates (November 5th, New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year and Diwali) only. So that there are limitations not just on the sale of fireworks at other times of the year, but on the use of them too.
  • Reducing the maximum permitted noise level of fireworks to 97 decibels, about the same level of noise as a door slamming. Fireworks louder than this would only be used for licensed public displays. We’d also like fireworks to be labelled as ‘loud’ or ‘low noise’ so that shoppers are able to make informed decisions.
  • Ensuring that all public firework displays need a license from the relevant licensing authority, and giving all local residents the opportunity to appeal against the granting of the licence.

Fireworks don’t have to be so scary

Although we want to see changes to our firework regulations, to protect all animals – there are things that you can do to make the experience less scary for your pet.

Firework phobia is a treatable condition, and you should seek advice from your vet who will, if necessary, be able to refer you to a professional clinical animal behaviourist.

You can also contact us if you’re concerned about livestock or wild animals who have been affected by fireworks and their debris.

The action is now closed – but we had an incredible response!

Over 1,700 people took action and emailed their MPs about the firework debate over the last week. That’s incredible!

At the debate it was confirmed that a new Office for Product Safety and Standards is to be created, which will support local authorities in reviewing and enforcing the current guidance materials on the safe and responsible use of fireworks. This is a significant first step in making fireworks fairer for everyone.

40 Responses to “Act now for fairer fireworks”

  • Sarah Hughes

    My dog is terrified when fireworks go off and people use them irresponsibly and recklessly. They’re too loud and incredibly distressing to myself as a dog owner and my poor dog.

  • Sandra Mallon

    I think fiteworks should be banned unless at a private venue

  • gillian mcdonough

    on the 10th of january my little yorkie dog had to be put to sleep she was 6 yrs old,all because of fireworks,she startes fittingin 5th november 2016 ,she was on medication,,but this year on new years eve she started fitting again because idiots setting them off all hours day and night,finally fireworks won my little girl couldnt stop fitting,we are heartbroke ,some thing needs to be done about fireworks,my ittle dog didnt stand a chance,what about all the stray dogs and cats and the wildlife,pleas please please something needs to be done .

    • RSPCA Official

      So sorry for your loss Gillian, that sounds heart breaking :(

  • Clare Martin

    Thank you for your time.


    Please support thechanges to the laws regarding fireworks

  • Michelle Downey

    Fireworks cause so much stress to dogs, cats, farm animals and some people. At times it can even be fatal. My dog has severe noise phobias caused by inconsiderate firework use at all times of the year, which has cost me approx £2000 on vets bills and medication in the last year and will be an expense for the rest of her life. Not only is it unnecessary to inflict such loud and painful noises on our animals it is absolutely ridiculous that explosives are sold to the general public. The Pier has fireworks nearly every month, many dogs got spooked and ran off this year and has resulted in some deaths.
    Politicians work hard to fight against terrorism but don’t stop the public form buying explosives. Please support the Fireworks Debate and help prevent needless injuries, stress and deaths

    • RSPCA Official

      This sounds like a really stressful situation Michelle. I’m sorry that you and your dog are going through it. Your vet has probably already talked you through the options, but noise phobia is a treatable condition which a professional clinical animal behaviourist may be able to help you with. We have some more information here:

  • Alison Snookes

    Our dog was petrified when the fireworks were going off in the neighbourhood. Very stressed and trembling, had to be cuddled until they had stopped.

  • Tiana Fish

    Please stop the loud fireworks

  • Sharon luckett

    Please restrict the use of fireworks

  • Gill Lane

    The law must be changed!

  • Ian Carter

    Thank you for your support.

    Ian Carter

  • Andrew Lane

    Guy Fawkes Night used to be just that – a night. Now our cats are scared out of their minds for weeks!

  • Rebecca Freear

    The ‘email MP’ button is not functioning clearly, one needs to see a ‘your email has been sent’ message on this page, not just a confirmation email which arrives some minutes after the button on this page appears not to have worked!

    • RSPCA Official

      Hi Rebecca – apologies for this, we made a technical error which meant the thank you page wasn’t showing. It works now, thanks for letting us know!

  • Alison 2

    My animals get so scared and I also don’t like feeling like I’m in a war zone it’s so loud where I live. Fireworks should not be sold to the public- only to official displays. Thank you.

  • Reg Hicks

    I would prefer a total ban on fireworks as they are so terrifying to animals.

  • Vanda McGreevy

  • patricia joyce

    the stress to our dog is horiffic , but in our area they seem to let them off anytime of the year, with no warning

  • Anita Twigger

    As an advocate for animal welfare, I implore the government to make changes to the rules that currently govern the use of fireworks. These are being used antisocially and very little is done to prevent this. So for the sake of nearly every animal, every elderly afraid person and those that suffer from PTSD….it is time to curb the sale and use of fireworks. So we all know when the next “bomb” is coming. Because that’s what most sound like to those that suffer.

  • Mrs Marie Buckley

    All Animals matter

  • Nicola Gilbert

    This subject also greatly affects my autistic child who can’t stand loud noises and only receives minimum sleep over bonfire night, Christmas and new year along with high anxiety levels all affecting his everday life and schoolwork. There’s also ex-service people whom I’m sure the loud bangs also affect after being in horrendous war situations. Fireworks are being made bigger and louder every year, its getting ridiculous. Fireworks never used to go off over new year until the millenium, now its any excuse to let them off.

    • RSPCA Official

      Hi Nicola, yes that’s a very good point, the excess noise and light affects a lot of people and not just animals.

  • angela peace

    Please help to ban or restrict fireworks. Thankyou

  • Gina Mayne-Flower

    Please attend the Firework debate on January
    29th, as restrictions need to be put in place
    to prevent the unnecessary suffering of animals.
    Both pets, livestock and wildlife are terrified
    during this time so restricting the sale and use
    of Fireworks would be absolutely amazing
    and would be most welcome by animals and owners
    alike. Please attend the debate and represent
    us to enable the restrictions to be put in place

  • Vanessa Healy

    Please help to limit the use of fireworks by the public

  • Polly Mitchell

    Please restrict the use of fireworks which currently can be dangerous and frightening.

  • Jayne Bowey

    Please restrict the use and sale of fireworks

  • Mark Rose

    Please attend this
    There really needs to be a massive restriction in the use of fireworks , it’s geting out of hand they seem to get used by every one to celebrate almost anything
    I think organised displays at certain times , well advertised is fine at least then steps can be taken to look after those affected ie pets , wildlife and even the elderly
    I believe that selling fireworks / explosives to the general public should be banned totally , so many accidents would then be cut down and the miss use
    I would also like to see more silent firework displays being provided
    Many thanks for your time

  • Fiona Dugmore

    Hi please limit the use of fireworks to the public or to introduce silent fireworks to prevent pets, wildlife, and people who suffer with the noises caused by them.

  • Mandy Crichton

    I’ve had to give my dog drugs to knock her out as she’s injured herself before when fireworks have gone unexpectedly! Ban the sale of fireworks to the general public and only allow the licensed displays. If not it will be harder to enforce and police as people will let them off anyway! Thank you.

  • Dawn Ireland

    Please support this call for fireworks to be restricted.

  • Genna Clark

    There are plenty of public firework displays to mark significant national occasions and festivals. There is no need for private displays that cause distress to domestic and wild animals, and keep children awake. It’s no longer the early nineteenth century – fireworks aren’t revolutionary, nor mind blowing – there are plenty of other, far less selfish ways to celebrate. Please ban the private use of fireworks as soon as possible. Thank you.

  • Michael O'Grady

    There are apparently already laws about when fireworks can be set off but it is impossible to enforce so tighter measures are needed to stop poor animals being scared to death by inconsiderate people setting them off randomly.

    When fireworks go off I am walking my dogs around 1am just to try and avoid the bangs and whizz noises. Great when Surreys street lights go off at midnight.

  • Janett longworth

    Fireworks should be restricted and should only be used at organised events. They are dangerous and my dogs are terrified. Too many animals that live outside, wild or agricultural are badly affected and traumatised. Some even end up with serious or fatal injuries caused by them panicking etc… I don’t want them banned,just more tightly controlled to protect myself,my pets and other animals from members of the public who act irresponsibly with them. They are explosives and need to be tightly controlled.

  • Ben Gibbons

    Ridiculous volume of modern fireworks is not acceptable, neither is the fact that they are being used for weeks before and after the November date. Please enough is enough

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