Pyrotechnics present dangers to spectators, players and officials.

An independent study commissioned by UEFA and Football Supporters Europe (FSE) found there is no safe use of pyrotechnics in spectator areas at football events within stadia or in crowded places.  We have developed the below advice for sports grounds, and all those attending events at stadia.

Health risks of pyrotechnics

The use of pyrotechnics has health risks, including:

  • Serious injury, such as limb or digit removal, due to their explosive power
  • Loss of hearing due to noise – up to 150 decibels
  • Burns – pyrotechnics can burn at up to 2000 degrees C. This creates a significant burn and fire hazard
  • Loss of sight
  • Possible carcinogenic effects

Managing unauthorised use of pyrotechnics

If unauthorised use of a pyrotechnic does take place, follow this three stage approach:

  • Get at least 5 metres away
  • Be seen to get away, especially players, match officials, stewards, and emergency services
  • Pyrotechnics are self-sustaining and cannot be extinguished. Any attempts to extinguish a pyrotechnic puts a person close to it with associated health risks.
  • You don’t know what the pyrotechnic will do next – it may explode.

Let the pyrotechnic burn to completion, and then deal with it

THEN (and only then)

  • Only once the pyrotechnic has burnt to completion should you attempt to contain it.
  • Even then the pyrotechnic may still be hot and burning internally.
  • Use suitable personal protective equipment to place the spent case into a bucket of water.

Preventing the use of pyrotechnics

Ground management teams should use all reasonable steps to prevent the use of pyrotechnics in stadia, including:

  1. Before an event
  • Use your website, social media, and tickets, to send a clear message that the possession of pyrotechnics in grounds is prohibited in all circumstances. Be clear that anyone found guilty of such use will be banned from the ground.
  • Gather information on visiting supporters using FSOA/police intelligence.
  • Use intelligence from sources including social media and others, to build a risk assessment on the potential nature and scale of risk of the use of pyrotechnics at an event. Use this as part of the stewards’ safety briefing, but don’t let this override the three-step advice above.
  1. During an event
  • Use signage around the ground to reinforce the message that the use of pyrotechnics is prohibited.
  • Use searching, including dogs as a deterrent, to check for pyrotechnics when spectators enter the stadium.
  • Use CCTV with retrospective dynamic interrogation (the ability to focus the image on an individual supporter or group of supporters) to check for the use of pyrotechnics in the crowd.
  1. After an event
  • Gathering evidence, in close liaison with local police representatives
  • Where there is robust evidence of an individual(s) using pyrotechnics in the stadium, take steps to ban them from the ground and a wider exclusion from other football ground.
  • Arranging to publicise such ground bans

Throughout these steps, work closely with all agencies involved in the management of events at a stadium, including the local authority, police, fire and ambulance services.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Ground management teams should seek advice from their local fire service about the most suitable PPE.

Further information

Our advice is based on the independent research commissioned by UEFA and FSE and developed following consultation with UEFA, The Football Association, Premier League, English Football League, Professional Footballers Association, and Health and Safety Executive.

If you have any questions, please contact your regional SGSA Inspector or Mark Holland, SGSA lead for pyrotechnics.