Skip to content


The illegal use of pyrotechnics present dangers to all at sports grounds.

Pyrotechnics present dangers to spectators, staff, players, officials and others.

There is no safe use of pyrotechnics in spectator areas at football events within stadia or in crowded places.

There have been a number of well publicised instances of pyrotechnics (flares, smoke bombs or fireworks) being used within
the spectator areas of a stadium and other crowded spaces. In many instances injuries or damage have occurred.

The illegal use of pyrotechnics at football grounds puts the safety of everyone at risk. Staff and players have the right to work without the risk of injury from the crowd, and fans have the right to enjoy football in safe environments.

What are pyrotechnics?

Pyrotechnics are devices containing explosive substances or a mixture of explosive substances designed to produce heat (up to 2500°C), light, sound, gas or smoke or a combination of such effects through self-sustained exothermic chemical reactions.

Pyrotechnics will generally burn “to completion”. Water or other methods will not extinguish them.

The law

Section 2A of the Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985 states it is a criminal offence to attempt to bring a pyrotechnic device into a designated football ground or to be in possession of a pyrotechnic device in spectator viewing accommodation at a designated football ground.

Managing the illegal use of pyrotechnics

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

1. Move away

  • Get at least 5 metres away.
  • Be seen to get away. Players, match officials, stewards, and emergency services should show that they recognise the dangers.
  • Pause the fixture if, for example, the device is on the pitch and/or there’s a lot of smoke. Officials and safety officers should assess
    the seriousness of the situation and decide whether to pause the fixture whilst the incident is being dealt with.

2. Leave them alone

  • Pyrotechnics are self-sustaining and cannot be extinguished. Any attempts to extinguish a pyrotechnic puts a person close to it with
    associated health and safety risks.
  • You don’t know what the pyrotechnic will do next – it may explode.

3. Let them burn out

  • Stay away, 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 remove 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, as it may still be hot and burning internally.

In case of a fire in a high-risk area, water fire extinguishers are best to fight the fire. Make sure to stand five metres away when directing water onto the surface.

Please keep in mind that all pyrotechnic devices are formed of compositions which include their own oxidants. This means that once ignited they will generally burn “to completion” and cannot be extinguished by conventional means (eg by excluding oxygen).

Some pyrotechnic devices will even burn under water – and hence cannot be extinguished by water (or other) fire extinguishers.

Learn more

Pyrotechnics education toolkit

Learn more