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Fireworks Prohibition, Licensing and Related Offences


For many years now the government has restricted access to fireworks, indeed make their unlicensed possession and use, criminal offences.

Over the New Year period there were a number of stories in the news media about the dangers of fireworks and on New Year’s Day, this is following the death of two Australians last year for the same offences.

Even the professionals get it wrong, as reported in the media. On New Year’s Eve a barge exploded in Terrigal minutes into the 9pm show, which highlights the dangers of using pyrotechnics.

The Queen’s birthday weekend in 1986 was the last time fireworks night was legal in NSW. During the 32 year period since the prohibition, there have been numerous changes to legislation regarding the manufacture, sale and possession of fireworks in NSW, with the most recent and applicable being:

  • Explosives Act 2003 (NSW);
  • Explosives Regulation 2013 (NSW); and
  • Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Possession, Manufacture or Sale Without a Licence

Under section 6 of the Explosives Act, a licence is required for handling explosives and/or explosive precursors. The maximum penalties for breach of this section are (for an individual) 250 penalty units ($27,500), imprisonment for 12 months or both. Penalties for a corporation is 500 penalty units ($55,000).

Sentences can be very heavy. For instance, some think it funny to set fireworks off close to another person. If it is alleged that the person, who ignited the firework did so with intent to injure another, then pursuant to section 55 Crimes Act, that person is liable to imprisonment for 10 years.

There are various other offences centering on the possession and use of fireworks that carrying penalties ranging from fines to fulltime imprisonment.

Attaining a Licence in NSW

To attain a “Fireworks Single Use/Event” licence in NSW is a relatively simple process. Please see the linked guide and the application form that needs to be submitted to Work Cover NSW, in addition to the licensing fee of $55 which needs to be paid. If you would like to attain a “Pyrotechnician” licence which allows for ongoing and more powerful fireworks, please see the linked guide.

Applicants need meet the following criteria (which is not limited to):

  • 18 years of age;
  • 100 points of identification;
  • Prior experience and provide evidence of training;
  • Equivalent course completion in other States;
  • Disclosure of past criminal history for assessment;
  • No current prohibitions from holding a licence.

Applications to display fireworks are of course, subject to permission from Safe Work NSW, the relevant local council, NSW Police and the NSW Fire Brigade.

Charged with fireworks related offences?

If you have been charged with fireworks related offences, you could be facing a term of imprisonment or a significant fine. If so, contact Armstrong Legal for an obligation free consultation to plan your defence on 1300 168 676.

Image Credit – Maxborovkov © 123RF.com

Written by Tyson Brown on March 27, 2018

Tyson has a down to earth, straightforward approach to life and the law, one which is well received by all who meet him. Tyson has the ability to relate to all clients on a personal level, having spent many years prior to his legal career in customer service and hospitality. View Tyson's profile


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