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On Monday 1 November, Help for Heroes joined ten other charities in calling for the Government to hold a review of fireworks legislation in England and Wales. 40 MPs attended the coalition’s event in the Houses of Parliament, which focused on how current lax regulation on the sale and use of fireworks can trigger anxiety and trauma for vulnerable people such as veterans, as well as for animals.

The event, which was coordinated by the Dogs Trust, brought together representatives from Blue Cross, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, British Veterinary Association, Cats Protection, Children’s Burns Trust, The Kennel Club, Combat Stress, PTSD UK, and Dan’s Fund for Burns. This event followed the recent publication of a joint letter by these charities to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, under whose remit fireworks regulation falls.

The fireworks season can be a particularly distressing time for veterans. Unexpected flashes of light, loud noises, and the smell of fireworks and bonfires can bring back painful and traumatic memories of combat. Current legislation allows for fireworks to be sold to the public from 15 October to 10 November each year - as well as around other annual festivals - so veterans face a challenging month when private displays can be set off at any time. This distress can be compounded by its coincidence with the period of grief surrounding the commemoration of fallen comrades at Armistice.

Our Interim Head of Hidden Wounds David Walker commented:

We are delighted that so many MPs attended this event and that it successfully united charities from the armed forces, animal welfare, mental health, and physical injuries sectors. It is a real testament to the growing political support for change in this area.

We are supporting the call for a review of fireworks legislation to better understand how their harmful effects on veterans can be reduced. Such a review was recently carried out in Scotland and resulted in the passing of Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Articles (Scotland) Act 2022. This Act, once in force, will bring in tighter regulation on the sale and use of fireworks, including restricting the dates when they can be bought and requiring a purchase licence.

We also used the opportunity to highlight ‘The Fireworks Heroes Code,’ which includes some simple steps that can be taken, such as going to public rather than home displays, giving neighbours warning if using fireworks at home, and buying the new generation of ‘silent’ fireworks.

This week, as Bonfire Night celebrations take place, we are calling on the British public to practice ‘The Firework Heroes Code’. We want people to be more mindful of the negative impact that fireworks can have on veterans and others.

Fireworks Heroes Code