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Old 17 March 2009, 05:44   #1
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Legislation about using distress flares

Can anyone point me to the legislation that makes firing of distress flares on land an offence?

So far, all I can come up with is the Distress Signals and Prevention of Collisions regulations which apply only to distress signals fired from a vessel.

I've just put this in a separate thread as it got a bit lost in the big distress flare discussion!
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Old 17 March 2009, 06:06   #2
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According to THIS section of the RNLI site it is in the Merchant Shipping Act .
I've had a quick scan through but can't find anything on the subject.
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Old 17 March 2009, 07:04   #3
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obviously letting them off in a coastal area is going to cause problems and i was told that if you live within about 6 miles of an airport its against the law thats for rocket types over 250 feet ft high but neither can you fly a kite or let off a load of ballons at once without permission ,so as far as anything else i think they are classed as pyrotectics same laws as fireworks ,though as again with the rocket para types they are for use over the sea and could still be burning when they land ie on some ones roof ,ie thatched cottage or plastic guttering so it could be missuse of use that the law relates to if there is one ,the only thing that i can see from the manafacturers web sites is dont set off in a non emergency as it could lead to an emergency services response which could result in loss of life .
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Old 17 March 2009, 08:14   #4
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Flares aren't covered by the Fireworks Act at they aren't "intended as a form of entertainment" or covered under the BS standards for fireworks.

I can't find much covering the misuse of emergency services. Prank 999 calls are covered under the Telecommunications Act.

Its illegal to take flares to sports events under the Public Order Act - “controlled article or substance....and in particular it includes
distress flares..."

Other than some transport regulations and the Merchant Shipping related ones, which don't really apply in your back garden, I can't find anything else.
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Old 17 March 2009, 08:26   #5
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Flares aren't covered by the Fireworks Act at they aren't "intended as a form of entertainment" or covered under the BS standards for fireworks.

Its illegal to take flares to sports events under the Public Order Act - “controlled article or substance....and in particular it includes
distress flares..."
That is prob because some poor bloke was killed at I think a Rugby match when some idiot in the crowd fired a red parachute flare. The idiot obviously didn't intend to kill some - he was just that - an idiot.

The flare hit the man in the chest and blew a dinner plate sized hole right through him.

Of course the media and politicians were calling for flares to be banned - until they realised they may just be needed. So they ended up banning small mulit launch flares as used by windsurfers etc. A bit ironic as they wouldn't have had the power to travel right across the stadium in the 1st place!!!
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Old 17 March 2009, 08:36   #6
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It can't be illegal to use a flare in a non distress situation. You can use a white parachute flare to illuminate a large area and you can use white hand held flares to alert others to your position or for illumination purposes - not exactly a distress situation.
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Old 17 March 2009, 08:58   #7
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Other than some transport regulations and the Merchant Shipping related ones, which don't really apply in your back garden, I can't find anything else.
That's what I'm thinking. I'll email the MCA and see what they say.
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Old 17 March 2009, 10:27   #8
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It can't be illegal to use a flare in a non distress situation. You can use a white parachute flare to illuminate a large area and you can use white hand held flares to alert others to your position or for illumination purposes - not exactly a distress situation.
Yes, but a white flare is not a distress signal. It is (in marine parlance) specifically a training aid.

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Old 17 March 2009, 11:08   #9
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So they ended up banning small mulit launch flares as used by windsurfers etc. A bit ironic as they wouldn't have had the power to travel right across the stadium in the 1st place!!!
You mean like these - which are still available?
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Old 17 March 2009, 11:10   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by codprawn View Post
It can't be illegal to use a flare in a non distress situation. You can use a white parachute flare to illuminate a large area and you can use white hand held flares to alert others to your position or for illumination purposes - not exactly a distress situation.
From what I can see (and there isn't much to go off) only Red flares are illegal, if it is illegal
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Old 17 March 2009, 11:40   #11
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Flares can be used in mountaineering as a distress signal.
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Old 17 March 2009, 13:05   #12
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You mean like these - which are still available?
No I have some myself.

It was a similar bit of kit but carried maybe 6 mini flares - you fired one - rotated the unit and fired another - a bit like a revolver. They weren't exactly banned but they made it compulsory to have a FAC for it and Chandlers would have to become registered firearms dealers so in effect it became banned.
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Old 17 March 2009, 13:22   #13
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with some of the mini comet type flares it was a grey area /some said they were firearms whilst others said it has no barrell as the whole flare cartridge is ejected like a rocket and the launcher was just for protection and not a barrell, or so they say ..
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Old 17 March 2009, 13:32   #14
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No I have some myself.

It was a similar bit of kit but carried maybe 6 mini flares - you fired one - rotated the unit and fired another - a bit like a revolver. They weren't exactly banned but they made it compulsory to have a FAC for it and Chandlers would have to become registered firearms dealers so in effect it became banned.
Ah OK - I vaguely remember them.
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Old 17 March 2009, 14:07   #15
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You mean a Verey pistol?
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Old 17 March 2009, 14:20   #16
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You mean a Verey pistol?
no a very pistol!
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Old 17 March 2009, 17:00   #17
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the original very pistols use a 16 gauge cartridge and for them you do need a firearms certificate in the uk and there are some smaller plastic ones now available that fire a star shell bit like the mini flare ,we have just had our lifeboat meeting this evening and i brought this subject up regarding flares ect and we were trying to work out the legalitys ,just had a go with one of the lazer type flares too,dont think it would go on the end of a parachute though lol.
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Old 17 March 2009, 18:09   #18
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No I have some myself.

It was a similar bit of kit but carried maybe 6 mini flares - you fired one - rotated the unit and fired another - a bit like a revolver. They weren't exactly banned but they made it compulsory to have a FAC for it and Chandlers would have to become registered firearms dealers so in effect it became banned.
I remember those-my father had one on his yacht in the '80s. It had a hexagonal revolvable flare cartridge coupled to the top of what was effectively like the 'penjector' mechanism from the Pains-Wessex Miniflares. The cartridge was removed,turned sideways and clipped into the handle when not in use. The whole lot was bright orange.

He got a firearms licence for his and kept it for ages but the police became more and more obstructive about it as the FAC requirements got tougher. From memory, he ended up handing it in because the police refused to let him keep the 'ammunition' in the same place as the 'gun' and they tried to insist it was kept in a locked box at all times unless it was about to be fired.They didn't want him to take it to the boat unless it was stored separately from the 'ammo' in two separate locked boxes either. Sometimes you have to wonder why we bother...
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Old 24 March 2009, 05:27   #19
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That's what I'm thinking. I'll email the MCA and see what they say.
No reply yet. I'll chase it up . . .
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Old 24 March 2009, 12:34   #20
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Flares

Thanks for following this up John, it might be worth a post in the Commercial Forum to see if anyone there knows.

Be interesting to see what the MCA says and whether they are able to specify with precision the legislative base for a general prohibition on non-emergency use, and who may authorise relaxation and if so for what specified purposes.


Martin
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