Bonfire night is approaching and clubs up and down the country are preparing to put on amazing shows of roaring fires and big bang fireworks.
Bonfire night events can be a great little money earner for your venue if you make the most of the opportunity with an outside bar and snacks stall.
But it could also cause you some real financial headaches if something were to go wrong. Especially if you haven’t followed the rules set out in your insurance documentation and you’re not properly covered.
Insurers aren’t robots; they recognise that some risks are unavoidable and they don’t expect you to strip the fun out of your event. But there are some very reasonable precautions that they’ll require from you in order to keep your event safe for everyone.
It’s absolutely vital that prior to your event, you speak to your broker, as events like these aren’t normally covered in a standard policy. And once you have ensured you’re properly insured, it’s vital that you read your policy wording in detail. That’s the only way you won’t miss something. The insurer won’t take ‘I didn’t know’ as an excuse.
Every policy wording is different, depending on the insurer. For instance, some insurers insist that bonfires should be at least 100 ft away from the venue. Others will accept bonfires situated closer to buildings so long as proper safety precautions are put in place.
Below, we’ve jotted down some advice for keeping your bonfire safe and risks to a minimum. However, it’s by no means an exhaustive list.
* DO limit the potential damage from anti-social behaviour by making sure that your venue is fully secured and locked, other than essential exits and entrances. Fireworks can come through open windows and doors.
* DON’T take chances with letterboxes. These are prime targets for anti-social behaviour and are common entry points for fireworks. Consider purchasing a metal cover for your letterbox to help contain fires. You can even find them with automatic fire extinguishers incorporated.
* DO clear all open spaces of rubbish and debris. You should also look to remove wooden crates and pallets from your premises, or at least keep them in a secure location away from the bonfire and fireworks. Some insurance policies will have specific requirements for wooden materials and bonfire events so again, check your policy wording or ask your NDML representative.
* DON’T leave flammable liquids and gases unattended. They should be confined to their designated storage facilities.
* DO cut back and remove vegetation surrounding the buildings.
* DON’T locate your bonfire too close to your clubhouse, roads or public rights of way. Earlier in this article, we said that most policies will differ on exact distance, but to be on the safe side, we’d suggest your bonfire should be at least 60 ft from the above.
* DO check the bonfire structure is sound before lighting it. It’s also imperative that you check that no animals or small children have wandered inside it.
* DON’T use petrol or paraffin to light the fire
* DO think about the wind direction and where the smoke may go. Have consideration for your neighbours and drivers on close by roads.
* DON’T take chances. Make sure that the person lighting the fire and any helpers are wearing non-flammable or low-flammable material and understand their responsibilities. We’d also advise that they wear a high-vis jacket so their visible to any members of the public.
* DO ask that parents and guardians accompany their children at all times.
* DON’T throw fireworks, aerosols, batteries, tins of paint of tyres on the bonfire.
* DO have sand, water or fire extinguisher ready to put out the fire should an emergency arise.
* DON’T leave the premises at the end of the night without ensuring that the fire has been out for a considerable period of time.
* DO check the fireworks you buy conform to British standards and are not tampered with.
* DON’T allow any volunteers or staff members to handle any fireworks or bonfire material with their bare hands, before or after the display.
If you need any help, just ask. We’re here to make sure your risks are kept to a minimum and you’re compliant with your policy conditions.