Can I Legally Light Off Fireworks In My State? What About Sparklers?

Though some of you will mark the July 4th holiday by illegally tossing cherry bombs off your roof, we know that most of you want to do things the safe and legal way. Of course, the particulars of what you’re allowed to set off depends a lot on where you live.

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association [PDF], there are 42 states (and Washington, D.C.) that allow some sort of consumer fireworks. The remaining 8 states are divided equally between the “Sparkler States” — Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Vermont — that only permit sparklers and other novelty items, and what I’ve personally labeled the “No Fun On the Fourth States” — Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts — that don’t allow any consumer fireworks.

But even among the 42 states and D.C. that allow for fireworks fun, there is great variation in what’s permitted. Thankfully, the helpful folks at the APA have put together a state-by-state guide so you can see what’s allowed in your neck of the woods.

For example, while Pennsylvania is effectively a sparkler/novelty-only state, you can apply for a display permit from the authorities in whichever municipality you want to set off your consumer fireworks.

Out in Colorado, the state prohibits the use of consumer fireworks that it doesn’t explicitly permit. According to the APA, the ones allowed by Colorado law are “Cylindrical and cone fountain, ground spinner, torch and colored fire, dipped stick and sparkler, snake and glow worm, trick noisemaker and certain other novelties.”

Then there are states like Wyoming where it simply says that you’re allowed to set off any consumer fireworks that meet the requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

For that you need to turn to the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 16, Part 1500.17(a)(3), which bans:

“Fireworks devices intended to produce audible effects (including but not limited to cherry bombs, M-80 salutes, silver salutes, and other large firecrackers, aerial bombs, and other fireworks designed to produce audible effects, and including kits and components intended to produce such fireworks) if the audible effect is produced by a charge of more than 2 grains of pyrotechnic composition.”

and and (a)(8), which bans:

“Firecrackers designed to produce audible effects, if the audible effect is produced by a charge of more than 50 milligrams (.772 grains) of pyrotechnic composition (not including firecrackers included as components of a rocket), aerial bombs, and devices that may be confused with candy or other foods, such as “dragon eggs,” and “cracker balls” (also known as “ball-type caps”), and including kits and components intended to produce such fireworks.”

Regardless of which fireworks you’re allowed to set off, we hope that you do so safely. Last year, nearly 9,000 Americans were treated at emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries and you don’t want to be one of the people on the tally for 2013, do you?

The CPSC has a whole section of its site dedicated to fireworks safety; it couldn’t hurt to give it a read.

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