Basel’s Rules for Fireworks
An integral part of the celebrations of Switzerland’s National Day on August 1 are the many fireworks that are set off everywhere—not just by communities for their organized public festivities, but also private citizens. Many people host barbecue parties and/or set off their own private fireworks, which is legal on July 31/August 1 and New Year’s Eve. But there are some limitations on what, when, and where you can set off your own rockets, sparklers, and volcanos.
What Types of Fireworks Can You Purchase?
Sales of these fireworks only begin a few days before the holiday and are limited to certain stores that have the appropriate permits (eg, larger Migros and COOP stores, as well as hardware or do-it-yourself stores and a few others). The fireworks that you can purchase as a private person without further training are classified into three categories based on the associated level of risk, noise they generate, and amount of explosive they contain.
- Category 1 are considered to be associated with only minimal risk and negligible noise and can be set off in small spaces outdoors and even inside. Examples include sparklers (Bengalstreichhölzer), small volcanos, Lady Cracker batteries, and table fireworks (Tischbomben). To purchase them you have to be at least 12 years old.
- Category 2 fireworks are associated with a low risk, generate low noise levels, and can be set off outdoors in relatively small spaces. Examples include smaller rockets, medium-size volcanos, smaller wheels or suns, and smaller Roman candles (Römisches Licht). You have to be at least 16 years old to buy these items.
- Category 3 fireworks are associated with a medium-level risk and, when used as directed, generate noise levels that are not harmful to humans. They must be used in larger open spaces outdoors. Examples include larger rockets, volcanos, wheels/suns, and Roman candles as well as batteries or combination packs that set off a large number of individual shots. To purchase these, you need to be at least 18 years old.
When and Where Can You Set Off Fireworks in Basel-Stadt?
In order to accommodate concerns that fireworks can be stressful and disturbing to both animals and many people, canton Basel-Stadt has now specified additional rules for when and where you can set off private fireworks. Thus, if you live in Basel-Stadt, note these restrictions, that are valid through January 1, 2024:
- In all inhabited and publicly accessible areas in Basel-Stadt, fireworks are only permitted to be set off on July 31, August 1, and December 31 from 18:00-01:00 the following day. Outside of those dates, special permits are required.
- In certain areas, fireworks are prohibited entirely. These include a perimeter of 200 m around all hospitals; Binningerstrasse as well as the footpaths on both sides of the Birsig in the Nachtigallenwäldchen (to limit exposure for animals in the zoo); and Erlenparkweg from Fasanenstrasse to the train underpass by Schorenweg and the adjacent bike/pedestrian path (to limit exposure for the animals at Lange Erlen).
- Infractions to these rules may result in a fine of CHF 150 and the fireworks may be confiscated.
What to Consider When Setting Off Your Fireworks
If you want to set off your own fireworks, follow these simple rules to ensure a safe and fun experience for everyone:
- When you buy your fireworks items, take a look at the instructions and if necessary, ask the sales staff about how to use them.
- Read instructions carefully in advance so that you know what to do when the party is in full swing.
- Keep your purchases in a dry, cool space until you need them and keep them away from children.
- To set them off, do not hold the items in your hands. Stand to the side of the rockets etc. so that your body is not in the way when they go off.
- To set off rockets, place the stick in a heavy bottle or special pipes—do not put the stick of the rocket itself into the soil!
- If the device does not go off as expected, do NOT approach it for at least 10 minutes and do NOT try to light it again! To be sure it doesn’t go off unexpectedly, douse it in water.
- Keep younger children away from any kind of pyrotechnical devices and make sure older kids are properly instructed and supervised when handling them.
- Be sure to wear closed shoes to prevent burns on your feet from all the burning cinders on the ground.
- Do not set off fireworks close to people or in larger crowds.
- Do not set off fireworks after longer periods of draught; some communities may ban fireworks if the holiday has been preceded by a longer dry spell.
- Be considerate of your neighbors and any pets or other animals that may be much more sensitive to the noise!
Or you can just sit back and enjoy the show that your neighbors or your community put on to celebrate the Swiss National Day!Share