The most important thing when buying a professional firework display is to ensure that the company you employ is reputable and complies with both the law and industry good practice. The best way to check this is to ask the following questions:
What trade body do they belong to? They should be a member of a recognized industry trade organization such as the British Pyrotechnics Association (BPA) – see member list at http://www.pyro.org.uk/?page_id=223 - or The Explosives Industry Group of the CBI (EIG) – see http://www.eig.org.uk/eig2007/?page_id=357
What level of public liability insurance do they have? Most reputable companies will have at least £5 million cover and some may have as much as £10Ask to see a copy of their insurance certificate and check the date to make sure that it is current.
Ask for at least three references from event. Most companies will be happy to give you the names of customers and it is worth calling a couple of these to find out whether they were happy with the service they were given.
Ask what level of training the company undertakes: While there are no legal training requirements, reputable companies will send their people on formal training courses such as the British Pyrotechnic Association courses
Know what you want
The first thing to decide is what your budget is as you will need to know how much you are prepared to spend. But be careful. Most professional displays are sold on the amount of time the display will last but this means very little as the weights (and quality) of the individual fireworks can vary enormously. Sometimes it can be better to have a shorter but more spectacular display for your money than to worry about whether it last 8 rather than 10 minutes.
These days you should expect to pay a minimum of around £750 + for a small display and the more you pay over and above this, the more spectacular the display should be. But do expect to pay a bit more if your event is planned around November 5!
The size of the display may also be dictated by other factors – such as the location you have chosen and the number of people watching, as the bigger the crowd the greater the height the display will need to reach for everyone to see everything.
What you pay for the display should include all the costs, including the crew, insurance and the materials.
Planning your Site
Your chosen firework supplier should advise you on the safe distance people should be away from the firing location. This will depend on a number of factors, including the site itself and the types and sizes of fireworks being used.
The HSE guidelines on bonfires and firework displays is helpful on this, see link below.
Generally at least 50 metres should be allowed between the firing area and any spectators and it may be greater than this.
Remember to also allow for space for the fall-out from the fireworks. This will again be determined by the site but the wind direction on the night of the display could make a big difference in the area you need.
Your display supplier should advise on the area needed for this based on the prevailing wind in the area and weather forecasts.
The most important thing to remember is don’t take risks with fireworks so take heed of what the supplier tells you as they are the professionals.