The "composite firework" type specification is defined at the European level and the test criteria for this firework type are standardised across Europe. The BAM identification number is no longer a mandatory part of the labelling of tested fireworks.
Millions of fireworks will be ignited again on this New Year’s Eve to welcome the New Year. The noise of fireworks is supposed to ward off evil spirits – a custom that had many followers in the Middle Ages. At that time it was rattling pots, today it’s rockets, bangers or composite fireworks containing black powder and glimmer effects. And they must be tested for safety before they are sold for New Year's Eve throughout all of Europe. The EU Directive “Placing of pyrotechnic articles on the market” has been regulating the uniform testing and labelling of fireworks since 2009.
Verified fireworks can be recognised by the registration number and the CE mark in connection with the verifier’s identification number. The BAM identification number that used to be a mandatory specification in the past year and was thus part of the label is no longer required. The manufacturers can decide whether or not to print the BAM identification number.
Fireworks that meet all criteria receive a registration number. In Europe, fireworks will be checked by notified bodies. These are neutral, independent and competent organisations designated by the EU Commission. Thus, notified bodies in Poland, Spain and Hungary are also allowed to perform tests for the German market. Currently there are 16 notified bodies in Europe.
Of a total of 611 products that entered the German market and were notified to BAM in 2014, 173 were tested by BAM itself. The first four digits of the registration number indicate the notified body that performed the test and approval. 0589 stands for BAM and 0163 for LOM, a Spanish notified body. 0589 – F2 – 1234 is an example of a registration number issued by BAM. F2 stands for Category 2 fireworks that can legally be used by 18-year olds and over. 1234 is a sequential number.
But in addition to the many legally available rockets, batteries and firecrackers, there are an unknown number of illegal firework articles. These pyrotechnic products can cause serious injuries. BAM explicitly warns about injury from lighting these often dangerous fireworks. And at a press conference on Wednesday, using a dummy hand, BAM showed just how quickly you can lose a finger if you ignite non-approved firecrackers.
Heidrun Fink is chief analyst at BAM: "If you ignite a certified banger while holding it in your hand, you may suffer minor burns. Illegal firecrackers often not only contain black powder, but are filled with a much more powerful blitz banger composition, therefore, one can suffer serious injuries and may lose some fingers."
"Injuries have always occurred in connection with composite fireworks over the past few years. This year, the firework type is defined in the EU legislation and its test criteria have been standardised. An important step towards greater safety for this increasingly popular type of firework," says Dr. Christian Lohrer, pyrotechnics expert at BAM.
When buying fireworks, one should look for the registration number and the CE mark in connection with the verifier’s number and a German user manual. In case of uncertainty, one can check the number printed on the firework at www.bam.de where all pyrotechnic articles approved in Germany are listed.
Fireworks are divided into two categories. Firecrackers having the symbol F2 (or the old designation P II, valid up to 2017) may only be ignited by 18-year olds and over before New Year’s Eve. F1 category fireworks may be ignited by 12-year olds and over throughout the whole year.
Dr. Ulrike Rockland
Phone: +49 30 8104-1003
Dr. Ulrike Rockland | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
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