Each year, staff at Standard Fireworks brace themselves for the Bonfire Night rush that makes up 95 per cent of their business.
“You pretty much dedicate your life to the business for two months, “ said general manager Austin Brown. “You say goodbye to your loved ones and head off to work!”
October and November sees Standard Fireworks, owned by Black Cat Fireworks, supply fireworks to major supermarkets including Sainsburys and Tesco, as well as Costco, Homebase, One Stop stores and Dobbies Garden Centres.
They also deliver Bonfire Night bangers to around 300 independent businesses around the UK, and work around the clock to keep stocks replenished up until November 5.
And this year, firework sales are continuing until November 10, to include Diwali celebrations.
“We’ve probably sold around 2.5 million fireworks this year and two million sparklers,” Austin added. “Locally we have more than 4,000 customers who come to the factory shop in Crosland Hill.”
After the last rocket has soared and the final Catherine Wheel has stopped spinning, staff can breathe a sigh of relief — before the planning for Bonfire Night 2016 begins.
Standard will meet with major retailers and supermarkets between now and Christmas to discuss their 2016 orders, which are completed by January.
The fireworks are then handmade in China, with an aim to get them ‘on the water’ — shipped by boat to the UK — by July.
“Even the powder is put in the fireworks by hand, so its a slow, labour intensive production,” Austin said. “Shipping takes five to six weeks, and we aim to have all stock in by August.
“Every single box has to be unloaded by hand into the warehouse magazines — we can’t use fork lift trucks. We have 50 people doing it, box by box from the shipping containers.”
But there’s no risk of a dropped box exploding or fireworks shooting off around the warehouse, as they’re all rigorously tested in China before they’re shipped.
Austin explained: “They have to be shook up for four hours, and they do drop tests. They’re baked in a large oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 24 hours, there’s lots of testing done to make sure it’s all stable. But we do still make sure people treat them with care!”
Staff also test a couple of fireworks from each line at headquarters to make sure they’re happy with the stock.
When it comes to sales, traditional boxes of fireworks with rockets, sparklers and other Bonfire Night staples are still popular.
‘Cake’ style fireworks are also becoming more common, where one fuse is lit once to power between 20-100 ‘shots’ into the air.
Standard Fireworks was established in 1891, moved to Huddersfield in 1905, and is keen to maintain its community connections by supplying the displays for Huddersfield Town and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue’s Bonfire Night events.
“By November 5 we’re all done with fireworks, but most of the team go to the Huddersfield Town display as it’s a bit earlier,” Austin added. “And we do have quite a good work life balance the rest of the year!”