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Your essential guide to fireworks categories and classifications

When shopping online for fireworks, you’re likely to have come across information about which category a particular pyrotechnic product is classed in. This info is important, as it tells you all about how and where a firework should be used, and who is allowed to buy and use it.

Up until the middle of 2017, you may have seen fireworks marked with the British Standard (BS) certification. However, this has now been phased out in favour of the following fireworks categories:

  • Category F1. This category is for fireworks that present a minimal risk, so it is usually used for products that are designed for use indoors. One of the most popular types of Cat F1 fireworks is the ice fountain, which are both safe and impressive for use on birthday cakes and for parties.
  • Category F2. These are fireworks that are on sale to the general public, and differ from Cat F3 fireworks only in the explosive power of the product – which affects the safety distance required. Cat F2 fireworks require an 8-15 metre distance between the spectators and the firing zone, depending on the product.
  • Category F3. Just like Cat F2 fireworks, these products can be bought and used by members of the general public. However, they usually require a safety distance of at least 25 metres.
  • Category F4. This category is for fireworks that are only to be used by professional fireworks display organisers. Members of the public cannot buy and use them, as they are more powerful than other products and can be dangerous if used by someone without the right knowledge, experience and training.

On the subject of safety distances, most products now recommend leaving at least 25 metres between spectators and the firing zone just to be on the safe side. However, this doesn’t mean that most F2 and F3 products aren’t suitable for use in the garden provided there is enough space available.

Where to find important category and safety information

When you buy fireworks online, you’ll usually find info about the category of the product in its description. Retailers such as 1st Galaxy Fireworks will only sell Category F1, F2 and F3 fireworks, and will not sell F4 fireworks to members of the public.

Information about the firework will also be displayed on the product itself. You will usually be able to see the category of the firework, along with a warning about age restrictions if applicable. Each product will also come with detailed safety information for storing and using the firework safely. If you are planning a display, it’s crucial to read all of these instructions carefully before the big day.

Finally, fireworks packaging will often tell you what to expect in terms of the performance. The label or leaflet will provide details on the effects, including how many shots and what kind of colours and finished to expect.

Have a question about fireworks categories or safety when using fireworks? Please feel free to contact the experts here at 1st Galaxy Fireworks.

First thrilling details of Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks revealed

Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks are widely believed to be among the biggest and best in the world, rivalled only by the amazing displays over London at the stroke of midnight on 31st December. The fireworks over Sydney’s famous opera house and harbour bridge are watched by millions of people worldwide every year.

If you weren’t already excited for New Year’s Eve 2017, you’ll be delighted to hear that the first details of Sydney’s plans for the big display have now been revealed.

Rainbow celebrations at midnight

The Daily Mail reports that a breath-taking rainbow waterfall will cascade from the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge in a dual celebration of a historic year for the LGBT community and campaigners for equality. The display will firstly pay tribute to the ‘78ers’, the first campaigners for gay rights to march in the Sydney Mardi Gras back in 1978. Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Mardi Gras. The rainbow waterfall of fireworks will also celebrate Australia saying yes to marriage equality this year.

Other highlights of the display include the lucky winner of a firework competition for children getting to push the button to start the display at 9pm. They will also get the pleasure of seeing their own firework design fire off into the sky. Commenting on the competition ahead of the Sydney NYE celebrations, display organiser and master pyrotechnician Fortunato Foti said:

“I love seeing what kids’ imaginations come up with. I can’t wait to see what designs they come up with this year. It’s such a unique and wonderful challenge to be able take a child’s drawing and turn it into a firework that’s enjoyed by millions of people all around the world.”

5,000 hours and 15 months of planning

Believe it or not, the organisers of Sydney’s NYE 2017 fireworks display will have started their planning before a single firework for last year’s new year celebration was even fired. The display reportedly took a whopping 15 months to plan, with 1,000 accredited people and 300 volunteers spending over 5,000 hours ironing out every detail.

In terms of the numbers, fireworks fans can expect:

  • More than 8 tonnes of pyrotechnics, 28,000 fireworks in total shot from 175 different firing points on the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • 100,000 unique pyrotechnic effects
  • Over 800 fireworks to be set off from the sails of the Sydney Opera House
  • Many more fireworks than NYE 2016, with 5,000 more shooting comets and 1,000 more shells.

In total, 16 computers will be used to coordinate and digitally launch all of the fireworks for the display. They will have a tough job, as managing a display of this size and scale is an enormous challenge. There are 16,500 cues to hit throughout the show, and all need to be timed to perfection. For the on the ground team, they have 18 shipping containers and 120 tonnes of equipment to unpack and set up. Yikes!


Forget Christmas – now’s the time to start planning your NYE fireworks

At this time of year, everyone is busy preparing for Christmas. Winding down at work, shopping for presents, cleaning and decorating the house and planning Christmas parties. In all the Christmas chaos, it’s easy to neglect the planning for the next big day of the year, which happens just a week later – New Year’s Eve!

It wouldn’t be NYE without fireworks, of course. Whether you’re planning your own display or you’ll be heading out to an organised event, here’s what you need to be doing right now to get ready for the big night…

Buy your fireworks

It’s important not to leave it too late to buy your NYE fireworks, particularly if you have certain products in mind. Fireworks are much in demand at this time of year and some of the most popular pyrotechnics and best value bundles are bound to sell out quickly. If you get them ordered now, you can avoid the mad rush just before Christmas and you’ll know you’re all set for NYE.

Find somewhere dry and safe to store fireworks

Ordered your fireworks? If you’ll be storing them for a few weeks until New Year’s Eve, you’ll need somewhere appropriate to store them. It needs to be dry and away from anything flammable, as well as any source of ignition. Fireworks should also be kept away from children and anyone under 18, so keeping them in a locked shed or cabinet could be a very sensible idea.

Get your equipment ready

If you’re setting off the fireworks yourself, you’ll need a few key pieces of equipment to make sure you can manage everything safely. It’s a good idea to get hold of:

  • A good torch – head torches or wall mounted ones are recommended, as they keep your hands free
  • Gloves and other PPE – to stay safe when lighting fireworks, some good gloves are essential. Optional extras of personal protective equipment (PPE) may also be worth looking into.
  • Portfires and lighters – a long-tipped lighter can help to keep your hands away from sparks, but the best way to light fireworks is with portfires. These are tubes of pyrotechnic powder which burn for a few minutes before setting off the firework and you can light them with an ordinary lighter. However, a wind-proof lighter (as well as a spare) would be a smart purchase.

Sort out your venue

If you’re setting off fireworks in your back garden, now is the time to think about how you will use the space. You need to leave enough space between the firing zone and where the audience will stand, as well as thinking about the ‘fallout’ zone.

Inform your neighbours

A simple knock or note through the door to let your neighbours know you’ll be having a NYE display goes a long way to preventing complaints and bad feeling – you can even invite them along!

Find a local display

If you’re not setting off your own fireworks, now is a good time to research what displays will be happening locally and snap up tickets before they sell out.

How to create your own personalised pyromusical

What’s better than a jaw-dropping fireworks display? One set to music, of course! A pyromusical display can charge simple light and sound effects with real drama and emotion, turning a normal fireworks show into something truly memorable. Audiences absolutely love it.

What’s even more special about fireworks set to music is that they are perfect for personalisation. You can create your own bespoke pyromusical to add a personal touch to weddings and birthdays, as well as corporate events when you want to tailor the display to your brand and message.

Here’s how a personalised pyromusical comes together…

It’s all about the song

Unfortunately, not all pieces of music are suitable for soundtracking a fireworks display. Some may not be upbeat or punchy enough, while others may not offer the moments of musical emphasis that a pyromusical needs. An experienced display designer such as the team at 1st Galaxy Fireworks can advise you on whether or not your chosen song will work well, as well as mixing your music to make it more suitable for the display. Choose your song carefully, remembering that those that work best include:

  • Fast, high energy songs
  • Famous classical pieces of music – for example, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy or Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries
  • Power ballads and slower, dramatic songs
  • Themed songs – for example, Prince’s Purple Rain or Yellow by Coldplay where firework colours can be themed to match
  • Music that features timing to the beat
  • Songs which change tempo mid-way through – perfect for varying the display and creating drama and anticipation.

If you’re designing a display for your wedding, go for a song that has personal meaning for you and your spouse. It’s helpful if your audience is familiar with the music, and be careful with songs that feature swearing if you’re aiming for a family-friendly show.

Designing the display

Unless you’re a fireworks professional, you’ll find it difficult to plan a pyromusical display yourself. Both firework selection and timing need to be perfect to make it work, so you’ll need to call in an expert such as 1st Galaxy. The good news is that with your input, a professional can make use of the latest software and their own years of experience to create a bespoke display that matches the music. You can choose the colours and advise of your favourite fireworks, and of course you’ll have chosen the music. Once you’re happy with the display, you can even choose to be the one to start the whole thing off – pressing the button that will electronically fire the first firework on the night.

Further options for personalisation include customised fire writing, so for weddings the names of the happy couple can be emblazoned in the sky. You can even have the faces of bride and groom appear in the sky – a truly spectacular effect!

If you want to take control of your big night and help to design a bespoke pyromusical display, contact the 1st Galaxy Fireworks team to discuss your ideas.

Marvellous mines: all you need to know about these powerful pyrotechnics

1st Galaxy Fireworks 557

If you like your firework displays loud, one of the most impressive types of pyrotechnics you can choose for your next big celebration is a mine. Mines are among the most powerful and dramatic types of fireworks you can buy, designed for maximum impact and producing a bang that can be as loud as 120 decibels.

How they work

Mines aren’t like other fireworks. They don’t explode in stages – the whole contents of a mine explode all at once. The mine is packaged in a single card tube and when the fuse is lit, the explosion shoots out the end of this tube right into the sky. This sudden effect shoots coloured stars and other effects up from ground level up to several dozens of feet into the air.

Mines are one-hit effects, so it can be expensive to only include mines and no other firework types in a display. In fact, your audience may actually find a mine-heavy display a little dull as when used frequently, the shock factor produced by the sudden, loud explosion will soon wear off. Mines should be used to create sudden drama in a display, to punctuate other effects and the produce a climax to the show.

Types of mine

There are a few different types of mine to choose from – mortar, fountain and double-effect. Let’s look at each of these in turn:

  • Mortar mines. Very short in duration but heavy on impact and drama, mortars are the classic example of a mine in action. The fuse burns down into the mine, producing a stunning and booking – if short-lived at around 5 seconds or so – explosion up into the sky.
  • Fountain start mines. These fireworks start with a reasonably good quality fountain effect which burns down to the mine to produce an unexpected explosion. This injects a fantastic element of surprise into any display.
  • Double-effect mines. These double or even triple effect mines go off in stages, offering excellent value for money and filling up time in a display even if the effects themselves are a little smaller and quieter than a mortar mine.

Can anyone buy and use a mine?

Mine fireworks are Category 3 fireworks, which means that they are intended for displays rather than use in your back garden. However, they are available to the general public and can be used by non-professionals. Due to the way they fire and the explosiveness of the effect, mines require a greater distance to be left between spectators and the firing zone. If using mines:

  • Only fire them in open areas (i.e. school playing fields)
  • Leave a distance of at least 25 metres between the firing zone and spectator areas
  • Always read the instructions thoroughly before the display
  • Consider your neighbours – mines are loud, so make sure you inform people living close to the display site in advance
  • Only ever buy BS7114 certified fireworks
  • Consult a professional such as the 1st Galaxy team if you need tips or advice on using mines.

10 handy tips to remember for fireworks night 2017

bonfire night 2017

Organising a fireworks display for Bonfire Night 2017? You’ll no doubt be making all of your last-minute preparations as we speak, from preparing the site to promoting the event.

Now is the time to run through an essential checklist of tips and considerations to make sure your event runs smoothly, safely and spectacularly. Here are 10 important questions to ask yourself as you plan the big night:

  1. Have I read the instructions? Don’t wait until Bonfire Night to read the instructions for firing your fireworks, not only because it’ll be dark and difficult to see what you’re doing. Sit down and run through the directions now, so you know exactly what you’re doing when the time comes.
  2. Have I got some water nearby? It’s always a good idea to have some water and a fire extinguisher on hand in case of embers, sparks or other unexpected issues.
  3. Am I using an illegal category of fireworks? If you’ve somehow managed to get hold of Category 4 fireworks, you absolutely mustn’t use them at all. These are strictly only to be used by professional firework display organisers such as 1st Galaxy Fireworks.. We recommend you report these or ask your local firework specialist for advice.
  4. Is there enough space between spectators and the firing zone? Planning out your site properly is very important, and you must leave a safe distance between your audience and the space where you’ll set off the pyrotechnics.
  5. Do my team know how long to leave a dud firework before approaching? If a firework doesn’t do anything after lighting, never approach it right away. Leave it at least 20 minutes and still approach with extreme caution.
  6. Is everyone aware that they mustn’t smoke or drink when handling fireworks? Smoking near fireworks is extremely dangerous, as is a display being managed by anyone who is intoxicated. Tell the team or volunteers who are working with you to save the drinks until after the display.
  7. Is my display planned for the right time? It is illegal to set off fireworks between 11pm and 7am at any other time of the year, but on Bonfire Night the cut-off point is midnight. Make sure your display doesn’t fall foul of these rules.
  8. Do I have a wet weather plan? If it rains on Bonfire Night, your display doesn’t have to be a washout. Follow these tips to keep your fireworks dry and make sure your spectators have somewhere to shelter.
  9. Have I informed the neighbours? You don’t have to do this, but it is considered a courtesy to let people who live near the venue know about the display in advance. After all, pets and small children can be very upset and distressed by the loud noises of fireworks.
  10. Do I have the right lighter? It is recommended to use a long-tipped lighter when lighting the fuses for your display, as this helps to protect your hands. You may also want to consider other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and goggles.

What if it rains on Bonfire Night 2017? How to beat the elements on 5th November

Bonfire Night 2017 1st Galaxy Fireworks

Bonfire Night happens in November, so realistically – there’s a very good chance that it could be a wet, cold and windy evening. It may turn out to be dry and clear, the perfect conditions for fireworks.

As an event organiser, you need to prepare for every possible weather-related scenario. Just because it rains, it doesn’t mean you can’t put on an amazing display! Follow these tips to beat the elements on Bonfire Night…

Protect stored fireworks from the damp

If the weather’s horrible in the days leading up to your display, fireworks that aren’t stored properly can be damaged. The last thing you want is to take out your fireworks on Bonfire Night and find that they are damp and won’t fire! To prevent this from happening, make sure you store your fireworks somewhere dry and secure, but don’t make the mistake of keeping them near sources of heat or ignition as this can be very dangerous.

Use stickers to find the fuse in the dark

Even with a good quality, bright torch, it’s easy to lose a fuse in the dark of a night-time display – especially if it’s pouring down and you have rain running into your eyes. Make life easier for yourself by sticking a fluorescent sticker on the fuse beforehand so that it shines brightly in the dark.

Consider your guests

As soon as rain is looking likely for the big night, get in touch with your spectators to reassure them that the event is still going ahead. Many people will assume that your display will be rained off, so they won’t come unless you let them know.

Arrange some shelter and cover for your guests so that they can watch the display without getting completely soaked, even if it’s only buying a job lot of see-through umbrellas for them to use! Warming drinks are a must, along with a roaring bonfire if the rain holds off for long enough and you have dry materials for burning.

Waterproof your fireworks for firing in the rain

You may think that you can’t fire fireworks in the rain, but that isn’t strictly true. You can use a pro trick to beat the rain such as wrapping your fireworks carefully in cling film to keep them dry while they’re being fired. Don’t use a plastic bag – as this can lead to condensation inside which can damage the product. You’ll need to consult an expert on this or do some research to make sure you do it properly, and bear in mind that only certain types of fireworks are suitable for the cling film method. You’ll also need to use a portfire to safely burn through the cling film.

Remember, if you don’t feel confident doing any of this, bring in an expert to help. The 1st Galaxy Fireworks team will be happy to offer you some advice, so get in touch.

5 essential things you need for the perfect Bonfire Night

1st Galaxy Fireworks Bonfire Night

Not long now! Bonfire Night is nearly upon us, so now’s the time to start planning your special night. If you’re having an event at home, here are the 5 essentials you need for the perfect party…

  1. Fireworks!

We wouldn’t be 1st Galaxy Fireworks if we didn’t put fabulous fireworks at the very top of this list. A bonfire is great, but Guy Fawkes Night is nothing without an amazing display of light, colour and special effects to delight young and old alike. If you have pets, remember that they don’t tend to like fireworks so arrange for them to stay at a friend or family’s members for the evening.

As for which ones to choose, make sure you have the classics – cakes, rockets and Catherine wheels.  If you don’t know which ones to go for, consult one of the team at 1st Galaxy or choose a display pack containing a number of different fireworks designed to last a certain amount of time.

  1. The ‘bonny’

While fireworks are an important part of any 5th November celebrations, a crackling bonfire is essential. However, it isn’t as easy as you may think to get one lit and to keep it going. It can be very disappointing, as well as a bit smoky, for your guests if the fire keeps going out. You’ll need dry wood, dry ground, lots of kindling, logs and plenty of space. Set up your bonfire a safe distance away from spectators and fireworks, using something like wood pallets as the base as they allow air to circulate. Avoid using any sort of accelerant to light your bonfire, just have patience and tend it carefully. Keep children away and have a fire extinguisher on hand to stop your fire getting out of control. Lastly, keep it small – you don’t need a huge fire for a small party.

  1. A guy

It’s only tradition to have some sort of ‘guy’ or effigy to burn on the bonfire towards the end of the night, so set the kids to work on making one in time for the big night.

  1. Sparklers

These fantastically fizzy fireworks are great fun, but you must use them carefully. They burn hotter than you’d imagine, so children must always be supervised and sparklers should be kept away from the bonfire. Never put them in pockets, keep them away from eyes and always make sure they are extinguished properly when the sparkle has fizzed out.

  1. Warming comfort food and hot drinks

There’s nothing better to warm the cockles on a chilly autumn night than a mug of sweet hot chocolate, or a mulled wine if you aren’t the one in charge of the fireworks or bonfire. Pair this with hot dogs, burgers, baked jacket potatoes or hot soup, while the kids enjoy some cotton candy or toffee apples for that fairground feeling (even if you’re holding your Bonfire Night party at home). Remember though, you should never ever use fireworks or tend a bonfire if you’ve had alcohol – safety first!

Lasers, live music and burning effigies – how to make Bonfire Night 2017 REALLY special

It’s a little way off, but there’s no time like the present to start planning a truly special event for this year’s Bonfire Night on 5th November. If you’re tired of the usual sparklers and underwhelming bonfire, why not try something a bit different?

Here are 4 unique ideas to make this year’s Guy Fawkes celebrations really go off with a bang…

  1. Burn an effigy

It sounds a bit odd if you’ve never seen such a sight before, but burning an effigy is an integral part of the UK’s Guy Fawkes night celebrations. Some children still make a ‘Guy’ and accost passers-by for a ‘penny for the Guy’ but it’s a tradition that’s largely been forgotten, and even fewer people burn the Guy on the bonfire on 5th November.

However, recent large celebrations like Burning Man arts festival in the Nevada desert and Green Man Festival in Wales have started to bring the tradition of burning a large effigy back to popularity. For your event, you can get the kids or even the community involved in making your effigy, then delight in seeing him burn at the close of your event. It’s a really dramatic and unusual way to top of a fantastic night of fireworks. Remember, the bigger the effigy the better!

  1. Choreograph your fireworks to music

If you’ve made your fireworks bigger and better each year, you may think there’s nowhere else left to go in order to wow your audience. But have you tried putting your fireworks to music? Choose a bombastic song or a more unusual track and have a fireworks specialist such as 1st Galaxy plan out a choreographed display. Such a display can be rousing, inspirational and even moving, depending on the music you choose – your audience will absolutely love it. If done right, it can turn a normal fireworks display into something approaching a work of art.

  1. Book a live band

It’ll take some careful planning, but you can use a live band to choreograph your fireworks display for a truly stunning performance. It’s a lot of work to time the music and the pyrotechnics perfectly, and you’ll need to work closely with your chosen band. It also won’t be cheap, but for a big event such a spectacle is bound to get lots of press attention (for both the event and the band) and be remembered for years to come.

  1. Throw in some lasers

You might think that it has to be one or the other, but lasers and fireworks can actually go really well together. With the help of an expert, you can create a fireworks light show just as impressive as the memorable 2008 Bonfire Night display (complete with lasers) in Glasgow.

If you need advice or simply want to know if your wild ideas for Bonfire Night 2017 are feasible (not to mention affordable), contact the knowledgeable team at 1st Galaxy Fireworks.

Why fireworks are the perfect choice for corporate events

Fireworks are the ideal choice for all sorts of celebrations, but they can also be the icing on the cake for corporate events. Whether you’re planning a product launch, conference, networking event or other celebration, fireworks are exactly the spectacle you need to create a memorable moment.

Here are just a handful of the many reasons to consider a spectacular fireworks display for your next brand event…

Fireworks are fantastic for publicity

If you want to make a splash with your event online, you’ll need something exciting, extravagant and that looks amazing in an image. Fireworks fit the bill perfectly. They photograph like a dream and make your event seem like the party to attend. This can boost attendance figures for next year, as well as raising your brand’s profile online. Make sure you hire a fantastic photographer and someone to handle social media on the day, so you can tweet and post live from the event to really whip up some excitement about it.

Surprisingly, they’re great for networking

You might think that due to the noise of a display, fireworks aren’t the best choice for networking at a business event. Actually, the opposite is the case. They create a fantastic opportunity for bonding between team members and new acquaintances alike, as everyone can share the excitement and thrill of the display. There’s no need to sit quietly as per a keynote speech or performance – everyone can chatter away freely covered by the background noise of the display.

Of course, fireworks are impressive

What is your number one priority at a corporate event? Obviously, it has to be impressing your guests. You want them to leave after having had a really positive and fun experience, and you also want them to take away a good impression of your brand. Fireworks tick both of these boxes, being both a spectacular piece of entertainment and a demonstration of your company’s hospitality (and let’s face it, prosperity).

They also offer branding opportunities

When you choose corporate event specialists like 1st Galaxy Fireworks to plan your fireworks, you also get the chance to personalise the display. This means you can customise the pyrotechnics used in the display to match your brand colours. This is ideal for the launch of a new product, and your guests are bound to be impressed.

You can use fireworks to reward your team

Fireworks aren’t only a good choice for customer-focused events. You can also use them as part of Christmas parties, end of year celebrations or full company conferences. If you want to reward your staff for all of their hard work, celebrate hitting a big target or a company landmark, this is a great way to do it. To put it simply, if you want to celebrate – choose fireworks. Your team will absolutely love it, and they’ll really appreciate the company splashing out on a display just for them.