Fireworks have long been synonymous with celebration, bringing light, colour, and excitement to festivities around the globe. Among the myriad of fireworks varieties, the Catherine Wheel, or pinwheel, holds a special place for its mesmerising spinning effect and vibrant sparks. However, as enchanting as they may sound, there’s a significant risk attached when installing these spinning fireworks on residential fences. This post aims to shed light on the potential dangers of attaching a Catherine Wheel to your fence, urging homeowners to prioritise safety over spectacle.

Understanding the Catherine Wheel

Firstly, it's essential to understand what a Catherine Wheel is. Named after Saint Catherine of Alexandria, who, according to Christian tradition, was sentenced to death on a spinning wheel, Catherine Wheels are designed to rotate quickly when ignited, producing a spiral of colourful sparks. They consist of a powder-filled spiral tube, or an array of rockets mounted around a central hub, intended to be fixed onto a vertical surface before ignition.

Potential Dangers

Fire Hazards

The most significant risk comes from the fire hazard that Catherine Wheels pose. The sparks and flames emitted can easily catch onto nearby flammable materials. Given that fences are often made of wood or are close to gardens filled with dry vegetation, the likelihood of the Catherine Wheel sparking an unintended fire is alarmingly high.

Property Damage

Apart from the risk of starting a fire, there’s also the concern of property damage. Fences, especially those made from softer woods, can be scorched or even burnt through by the heat and force of the spinning wheel. In addition, if the firework detaches during ignition, it can cause damage to other parts of the property or neighbouring properties, leading to costly repairs and potential disputes.

Personal Injury

Another critical danger is the potential for personal injury. If a Catherine Wheel is not correctly secured or malfunctions, it can fly off in an unpredictable manner, potentially injuring spectators or passersby with its sparks or by direct impact. The erratic behaviour of a malfunctioning firework can be impossible to predict or control once ignited.

Environmental Considerations

Environmental impact is also a concern. The remnants of fireworks, including Catherine Wheels, contribute to litter and pollution. Metal parts and chemical residues can be particularly harmful to wildlife and pets if ingested, and can also affect soil quality and water sources.

Safe Alternatives

Considering the risks, opting for safer alternatives to celebrate with fireworks is advisable. Professional public displays are a fantastic way to enjoy the spectacle without the dangers of handling fireworks yourself. For those still wanting to use fireworks at home, strict adherence to safety guidelines is essential. This includes:

  • Choosing a clear, open space away from buildings, trees, and flammable materials.
  • Following the manufacturer's instructions carefully.
  • Never attempting to fix malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Keeping a bucket of water or a hose nearby in case of fire.


While fireworks like the Catherine Wheel can add excitement to celebrations, their use requires careful consideration of the potential dangers they pose. By understanding the risks involved and opting for safer alternatives or adherence to strict safety protocols, we can enjoy these traditional spectacles while ensuring the safety of our property, loved ones, and the environment. Remember, safety should always come first in any form of celebration.