SAFE pyrotechnic sections were last night branded “kindergarten corners” by a firework industry expert amid growing calls for Scottish football to consider following the lead of Norway in a bid to snuff out their illegal use in the stands.

Many fans would like to see the game in this country follow the lead of the Scandinavian nation and introduce areas inside stadiums where trained fans can set off specially selected flares and smoke bombs at agreed times if permission has been received from the club, police and fire service beforehand.

However, Steve Raper and Fraser Stevenson, chairman and vice -chairman of the British Fireworks Association (BFA) respectively, believe they would not work here for a number of reasons and have also warned about the safety of so-called “cold flares” which burn at a lower temper.  

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“The authorities could bend over and say, ‘Okay, we are going to give you little kindergarten corners in stadiums where you can go to play with your pyrotechnics’,” said Raper. “But that is totally the wrong approach.”

Stevenson added: “In general, it is just not a good idea. Even with a smoke bomb, which does not produce a flame. What happens if the smoke bomb malfunctions? Anything that is man made can. You have to be mindful of that.

“To get a bit technical, a smoke bomb is composed of a food colouring or dye and a form of sugar. It burns and as it burns it turns the dye into smoke. That smoke comes out a hole at the top. The hole is known as a choke.

“If the reaction occurs too quickly or the smoke burns too quickly for the size of the choke, pressure will build up inside the smoke bomb. At best, the smoke will split if that happens. At worst, if the device is poorly manufactured, it will basically go bang. And it can go bang.

The Herald: A Celtic fan wearing a balaclava sets off two flares at a match“That is what happened to the Rangers fan who was celebrating his side’s Scottish title win in George Square back in 2021. He suffered quite a severe injury to his hand as a result. A video of that incident was posted online.

“Yes, that fan was holding a smoke bomb that was not approved for holding. But the safety instructions for most smoke bombs which can be held say that spectators should be one metre away.

"A whole group of people in a stand are not going to be one metre apart. Straight away, they are not able to achieve the safety requirements. For me, not doing it at all is the safest option.”

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He continued: “The ‘cold flare’ that was invented in Denmark is certainly better than a distress flare. The distress flare intentionally burns at a far higher temperature, making it more difficult to extinguish, which is beneficial for its intended purpose.

“Tifontaine, the cold flare, is a nitrocellulose based product which has coloured oxides added to produce the effect. But this product is not without risk and the effect is more than capable of setting fire to flammable items such as clothing.”

Safe pyrotechnic sections, which are in place at many Eliteserien clubs, have significantly reduced the illegal use of flares, smoke bombs and strobes at matches in Norway, have kept ultra groups happy and have made stands far safer places for ordinary supporters.

But BFA vice-chairman Stevenson does not believe they would be effective in Scotland due to the mentality of the hardcore element of football clubs’ fanbases.

“It is a cultural thing,” he said. “Maybe some countries in Europe where there is a different culture can get away with that. It is different over here. Where are they going to buy it? How is it going to be supplied? Who is going to test it? Is it going to be safe? Who is going to set it off?

“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you necessarily should.  Some countries can deal with safe pyrotechnics sections. Other countries, for reasons not necessarily associated with football, can’t deal with it. “