A FIREWORK company could face legal action after one of its staff was seen smoking on the premises in an undercover sting.

Essex Police has launched an operation in conjunction with Trading Standards to test whether fireworks distributors in Basildon and Billericay are selling to youngsters under 18.

The investigation, which is being untaken all this week, has so far found a third of the companies visited sold fireworks to someone under age.

Alarmingly, at one shop, a member of staff was spotted smoking around the fireworks, putting lives at risk.

Paul Costin, neighbourhood sergeant for Basildon West, said: “So far we have visited six premises in the borough, and two of them have sold fireworks to someone under age which is absolutely disgusting. From a policing perspective we would like to see no one selling to people underage, so this is very disappointing.

“Even more worryingly, staff at one store were even seen smoking around the fireworks which is highly dangerous. We will be addressing this matter with the store in question. Distributers cannot have a blasé attitude towards who they should sell to.”

Officers are also working to educate people on the laws around fireworks and how to handle them safely.

Sgt Costin added: “There are only four nights in the year in which fireworks can be let off after 11pm which are November 5, Diwali, Chinese New Year and New Years Eve.

"We are working with people in the community to teach them about the rules with fireworks and get a head start before fireworks night and the festive season begin.”