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Bonfire Safety

We would always suggest that you attend an official organised display but if you are planning a bonfire, this page will help keep you and your guests safe.

Alcohol and fire don’t mix

Do not go near bonfires or fireworks whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Some individuals may be tempted to ignore local bye-laws and drink alcohol in public places. This could lead to Police issuing a fixed penalty ticket or a report being sent to the Procurator Fiscal.

Our advice is to attend a safely organised bonfire and firework display.

However if you must have a bonfire at home make sure it is well away from buildings, vehicles, trees, hedges, fences, power lines, telecommunications equipment and sheds  - and you must ensure that smoke does not cause a nuisance to neighbours or flying embers endanger neighbouring property.

  • Never drink alcohol if you are tending a bonfire or setting off fireworks – remember it is an offence to consume alcohol in a public place.
  • To reduce the emission of harmful smoke and combustion products bonfires should comprise of untreated wood and paper based materials only.
  • There is a danger of explosion from pressurised containers or sealed vessels amongst bonfire material or irresponsibly thrown on burning bonfires.
  • Never throw fireworks on bonfires.
  • Never use flammable liquids to ignite bonfires – use proprietary fire lighters.
  • Smoke from bonfires must not pose a public nuisance, affect visibility on roads or otherwise inconvenience vehicles.
  • Sparks, flying embers or burning debris must not endanger nearby property.
  • Never leave a burning/smouldering bonfire unsupervised – make sure it is completely extinguished.

Any bonfire failing to satisfy safety conditions or where people are behaving irresponsibly may be deemed dangerous and as such, subject to being either removed, extinguished or otherwise made safe.

Bonfires and the Law

  • It is an offence under Section 56 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 for any person to lay or light a fire in a public place so as to endanger any other person or give them reasonable cause for alarm or annoyance or so as to endanger any property.
  • It is illegal for anyone under 18 years of age to possess fireworks.
  • Throwing fireworks or setting them off in a public place (anywhere other than your own garden) is illegal.
  • It is illegal for the general public to use fireworks before 6pm or after 11pm (this extends to midnight on 5 November and 1am on Hogmanay, Chinese New Year and Diwali). It is illegal for adults to buy or supply fireworks to anyone under the age of 18 - with the exception of F1 fireworks. Examples of F1 fireworks include party poppers, novelty crackers and certain sparklers.  The category of firework is legally required to be displayed on product packaging.

If you know anything about fires that have been started deliberately in your area, you can call the Crimestoppers Scotland hotline on 0800 555 111. All calls are completely anonymous and do not require names or personal details and you will not be asked to give evidence in court.

Fly tipping during the Bonfire and Fireworks season is a major cause of fire and it is also a criminal offence. If you see fly tipping or know of an area where there is a build-up of refuse or combustible material, contact your local authority cleansing or environmental department to arrange uplift.

You can find out more guidance and practical advice on organising a fireworks and bonfire display.

Read more safety advice