Fireworks Glossary

A handy A-Z guide to the various firework related terms and what they mean.



ICE FOUNTAIN: A fountain with COLD FALL OUT and low smoke, normally designed for indoor or stage use.

INDOOR FIREWORK: A small firework which can be safely lit indoors. See also CATEGORY 1/2/3/4.

INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH FIREWORK: A misleading term coined by the press and anti-firework members of the public to describe any “large” firework. There is no such thing as an “industrial strength” firework, fireworks are classified in accordance to British Standards. See CATEGORY 1/2/3/4.

INSURANCE: Essential cover for public displays. Without this you would be in serious trouble in the event of an accident or injury. More info.



JUMPING JACK: An old firework – no longer available in the UK – which as the name suggests, jumped around erratically. More info.



KAMURO: An effect that hangs and trails in the air not unlike a willow, often strobing or twinkling. Commonly used in finale sequences to fill the sky with long lasting effects that often persist to near ground level.



LANCEWORK: Words or phrases (such as “GOODNIGHT”) made up from lots of small fountains which when lit burn to display a message. Words and shapes made from flaming rope are often called FIRE WRITING. More info.

LASER: A piece of hi-tech equipment producing a bright beam of light, not a pyrotechnic device but common with very large displays or at concerts, in addition to fireworks. Good ones can cost a cool £15,000+ though!

LIFTING CHARGE: Part of a firework that launches a projectile or shell into the air. In candles and cakes it’s a small powder charge in the tube, in aerial shells it’s part of the shell itself. Rockets don’t have a lifting charge, they have a MOTOR.


LOOSE ITEMS: In firework catalogues, single fireworks not part of a larger pack or kit. More experienced displayers can “pick and mix” from the best loose items rather than go for a kit.

LOW NOISE FIREWORK: A firework specifically designed to operate with little or no noise. In the case of cakes and candles, this refers to the actual effect which might be a pretty colour, glitter, fish, spinners or other “no bangs” effects. Please note that there will still be some noise from the launch of each shell. More info.



MAROON: A very loud bang typically created by a maroon shell (e.g. at large professional displays) or maroon rockets. Professional maroons from aerial shells can be heard many miles away.

MINE: A firework in which the entire contents are ignited at the same time, and eject upwards from a card tube (also called mortar mines). Some mines start with a fountain. Can create sudden and intense effects, but are short lived. More info.

MINI-ROCKET: A small screech type rocket that was banned for having “erratic flight”. Legal small rockets differ only by being slightly larger and more stable in flight.

MISFIRE: A firework that goes off, but incorrectly. Rare.

MODE A / MODE B: Under the old regulations which have now been superceded this referred to the most basic registered firework storage for personal or retail use. Mode B allowed the storage of up to 250Kg of shop good fireworks, Mode A allowed up to 1000Kg. Replaced now by MSER. More info.

MORTAR: The tube used to launch or house a firework. Aerial shells are launched from “mortar” tubes, as are many display mines. In publicly available fireworks such as mortar mines they are normally made from thick card and are very strong – but not reusable.

MOTOR: The part of a rocket that burns to give the rocket lift. Comprises normally of solid fuel propellant and can accelerate the rocket to speeds of several hundred miles and hour in some cases. Can include chemicals to give a silver or coloured tail.

MSER: Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations. These new laws cover fireworks storage. More info.

MULTI-SHOT: A firework that has more than one shot.



NATIONAL FIREWORKS CHAMPIONSHIPS: Held in Plymouth, the national fireworks championships are notable for being one of the best UK firework events with six professional teams competing over two nights (usually in August) – and for being completely free to watch!

NEW SPEC: A phrase coined by the fireworks trade to describe consumer fireworks as complying to new regulations. See also OLD SPEC.

NOVEMBER 5TH: The anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder plot and the traditional day in England when everyone wheels out their fireworks!



OLD SPEC / OLD STOCK: A term used by some fireworks retailers to describe their consumer fireworks as pre-dating the new fireworks regulations. These fireworks became sought after due to their higher power.

OPERATOR FIRED DISPLAY: Fancy name for a professional display, ie. one where all the fireworks, equipment, crew and firers are all provided in return for a fee.

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Established in 1999, UKFR remains independent from the fireworks trade and does not sell fireworks.