Are Fireworks Legal in Your State? Laws and Regulations

The Fourth of July is the most looked-forward to holiday of the summer, but also the holiday with the most injuries. Despite the warnings and attempts to educate from federal, state and local agencies, every year we hear about someone losing a few fingers or worse in a fireworks accident. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that there were 11 fireworks-related deaths in 2014.

What Are the Dangers of Fireworks?

Even if all of the instructions are followed, fireworks can still be a harmful, and sometimes deadly, part of any celebration. A lot of us can remember when we were kids, setting off smoke bombs in the backyard or bottle rockets in the driveway. It’s likely that most of us had a few duds in the bunch and perhaps a scare that could have led to a much worse result. But there are some people who don’t escape with just a close call.

Sparklers alone can burn at temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns. These sticks may seem harmless to most users, but in 2014 they 19 percent of the injuries sustained from fireworks use. This would likely account for much of the injuries sustained to the hands and fingers, which amounted to 36 percent, making it the body part most injured by fireworks. Despite this high injury rate, sparklers are one of the few consumer fireworks allowed in all 50 states.

It’s estimated that 230 people go to the emergency room every day for fireworks-related injuries in the month surrounding the Fourth of July. Nearly three-fourths of them are men. Injuries are not the only problem related to fireworks either; structure fires are of huge concern. Nearly 20,000 fires are caused by fireworks every year, and in 2011, it was estimated that there was $32 million in property damage due to fireworks.

To avoid and prevent serious personal injury and even death, proper understanding of a firework and what it can do is necessary. Have a garden hose or a bucket of water nearby just in case, only light one firework at a time and avoid M-class fireworks all together. Be aware, not just of state law, but of county and city law regarding fireworks, as these will not always be uniform.

Where are Fireworks legal?

What may be true for state law may not be true for county law, which may not be true for city law. When it comes to purchasing or using fireworks, it’s important to understand any local ordinances that may be in place, especially since they can change from one year to the next.

State Permitted Prohibited Selling/Use Period Penalties For Illegal Use, Distribution and/or Manufacturing
Alabama Items that comply with regulations of the CPSC, DOT definitions, and trick noisemakers. Manufacture, possession, sale or use of ground salutes containing more than 2 grains of explosive composition; any mail-order fireworks. June 20-July 10; December 15-January 1 Less than two grains of explosive composition: Class A misdemeanor, $1,000 and/or prison one year. More than two grains of explosive composition: Class C felony, $5,000 and/or prison 10 years.
Alaska Roman candles, skyrockets, helicopter rockets, cylindrical and cone fountains, wheels, torches, colored fire, dipped sticks, mines and shells, firecrackers with soft casings, and novelties (size limitations specified.) All fireworks that are not defined as salable consumer fireworks. N/A $2,000 and 90 days jail
Arizona Ground based sparkling devices including fountains multiple tube cake devices, illuminating torches, wheels, and ground spinners Aerial consumer fireworks, bottle & sky rockets, helicopters, torpedoes, roman candles & jumping jacks. May 20 –July 6; Dec. 10 – Jan. 3 $1,000 for each instance of prohibited use
Arkansas Roman candles, skyrockets, helicopter rockets, cylindrical and cone fountains, wheels, torches, colored fire, dipped sticks, mines and shells, firecrackers with soft casings, and novelties (size limitations specified.) N/A June 20-July 10; December 10-January 5 N/A
California Per APA Std. 87-1, the following items are permitted: ground & hand-held sparkling devices, cylindrical & cone fountains, wheel & ground spinners, illuminating torch, flitter sparklers (morning glory) not exceeding 10” in length or ¼” in diameter, toy smoke device, party poppers and snappers. Fireworks for sale must appear on the approved list issued annually by the SFM office Firecrackers, skyrockets, rockets, roman candles, chasers, all wire & wooden stick sparklers, surprise items, friction items, torpedoes, items resembling food, fireworks containing arsenic, phosphorus, thiocyanates magnesium (magnesium alloys permitted), mercury salts, picrates or picric acid, gallates or gallic acid, chlorates, (except those of alkali or earth metals), boron, titanium (except larger than 100 mesh), zirconium, gunpowder, and fireworks kits. Noon, June 28, through noon, July 6 $500 and/or 6 months jail
Colorado Cylindrical and cone fountain, ground spinner, torch and colored fire, dipped stick and sparkler, snake and glow worm, trick noisemaker and certain other novelties. Any fireworks not specifically permitted N/A $750 fine and/or 6 months prison.
Connecticut Hand-held and ground based sparkling devices that are non-explosive and non-aerial, and do not contain more than 100 grams of pyrotechnic composition per item. All other consumer fireworks including multiple-tube sparkling devices that exceed 100 grams of total pyrotechnic composition. Novelty items are illegal N/A Class A misdemeanor: $2,000 and/or 1 year jail. Class C felony: $10,000 and/or 10 years prison
Delaware No consumer fireworks are permitted in Delaware. All consumer fireworks are prohibited Delaware. N/A $100 fine
Florida Devices approved and listed by State Fire Marshal which emit a shower of sparks upon burning, do not contain any explosive compounds, do not detonate or explode, are hand held or ground based, cannot propel themselves through the air, and that contain not more than 100 grams of the chemical compound that produces sparks upon burning. Any device that is not included in the list of approved items is prohibited, except that snakes, small smoke devices, trick noisemakers and certain other novelties may be sold at all other times Firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, daygo bombs, and any fireworks containing explosive or flammable compounds N/A 1st degree misdemeanor, $1,000 fine
Georgia All consumer fireworks meeting CPSC criteria as defined in APA 87-1; Sparklers up to 100 grams each; fountains (items that say ‘Emits Showers of Sparks’) up to 500 grams total for multiple tube items or 75 grams for each individual tube; snakes, glow worms, smoke devices, snappers, party poppers. N/A N/A Felony, 10 years prison and/or $10,000 fine
Hawaii Items that comply with regulations of CPSC and DOT definitions. Permit required for each 5000 individual units of firecrackers. Aerial fireworks such as, bottle rockets, sky rockets, missile-type rockets, helicopters, torpedoes, daygo bombs, roman candles, flying pigs, and jumping jacks, which move about the ground farther than inside a circle with a radius of twelve feet as measured from the point where the item was placed and ignited, aerial shells and mines. N/A Misdemeanor-Class C felony, depending on the violation. Felony: 5 years and $10,000 fine, misdemeanor: 1 year jail and $2,000 fine
Idaho Non-aerial fireworks devices, such as ground spinners, fountains, sparklers, smoke devices, or snakes. Any fireworks not specifically permitted, such as firecrackers, jumping jacks, or similar products. Midnight, June 23 through midnight, July 5; Midnight December 26 through midnight January 1 Misdemeanor, 6 months jail and/or $1,000 fine
Illinois Novelty fireworks and approved consumer fireworks. Handheld fireworks, firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles and buzz bombs. N/A N/A
Indiana Consumer fireworks that comply with the construction, chemical composition, and labeling regulations of the U.S. Consumer Products Commission N/A Consumer fireworks may be used only between 9am and 11pm on days other than holidays. Holidays include Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day and New Year’s Eve. Class C misdemeanor-class C felony, depending on damage to person or property. 60 days jail and $500 fine, to 8 years prison and $10,000 fine
Iowa Gold sparklers containing no magnesium, chlorate or perchlorate, flitter sparkler not more that ⅛” in diameter, and snakes containing no mercury Firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, daygo bombs. N/A Simple misdemeanor, no less than $250 fine
Kansas All pyrotechnic devices classified as consumer fireworks by DOT, except certain rockets. Any rockets mounted on a wire or stick, including any device containing such rockets June 27-July 5 (including delivery of mail-order fireworks) Sale or use of bottle rockets a misdemeanor, $100 fine
Kentucky Consumer fireworks that comply with the construction, chemical composition, & labeling regulations of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission including aerial devices including rockets & bottle rockets, helicopters, & aerial spinners, roman candles, mines. Ground and hand-held sparkling devices (dipped stick or wire sparklers), cylindrical and cone fountain, illuminating torch, wheel, ground spinner, flitter sparkler,) smoke, novelties, and trick noisemakers, & audible ground devices N/A June 10 – July 7th & December 26th – January 4th 30 days prison and/or $1,000 fine
Louisiana Consumer fireworks as defined by DOT and the CPSC. Cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, illuminating torches, pyrotechnic wheel devices, ground spinners, flitter sparklers, toy smoke devices, sky rockets and bottle rockets, missiletype rockets, helicopter aerial spinners, roman candles, mines or shells, firecrackers, and multiple tube fireworks. Cherry bombs, tubular salutes, 2” American made salutes, firecrackers exceeding 1½”in length or ¼” in diameter, repeating bombs, aerial bombs, torpedoes exceeding 3/8” in diameter, roman candles larger than 10 ball, and sky rockets with a casing of less than 5/8” in diameter and less than 2 7/8” in length, with an over all length of 15”. Noon June 25 through midnight July 5, and noon December 15 through midnight January 1. 6 months prison and/or $1,000 fine
Maine Consumer fireworks items tested & certified by a 3rd party laboratory as conforming with CPSC standards Missle type rockets as defined by the State Fire Marshal. Helicopters, aerial spinners, sky rockets, and bottle rockets. Towns may impose restrictions. July 4th, December 31st, and the weekends immediately before and after July 4th and December 31st between the hours of $500 fine
Maryland Sparklers containing no chlorates or perchlorates, ground based sparkling devices that are non-aerial non-explosive, and are labeled in accordance with the requirements of CPSC. Paper wrapped snappers containing less than 3/100 grains of explosive composition, and snakes that contain no mercury and are not regulated by DOT. Note: retailers must submit products for testing and approval to State Fire Marshal’s Office prior to sale. All others N/A $250 fine
Massachusetts None Firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, flares, candles, bombs, sparklers, wheels, colored fire, fountains, mines, and serpents. N/A 30 days prison and/or $100 fine
Michigan All consumer fireworks meeting CPSC criteria and as defined in APA Std. 87-1 sections 3.1.2, 3.1.3 and 3.5 and ground & held held sparkling devices. Sale of consumer fireworks to a minor, use of consumer fireworks while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and use on another person’s property or public property without permission. N/A Misdemeanor or felony, depending on damage to person or property. 30 days prison and/or $1,000 fine, up to 2 years prison and/or $5,000 fine. Escalating penalties
Minnesota Wire or wood sparklers of not more than 100 grams of pyrotechnic composition per item. Ground-based sparkling devices which are nonexplosive and non-aerial, and contain 75 grams or less of chemical mixture per tube or a total of 200 grams or less for multiple tube items and include: fountains, cones, illuminating torches, wheels, ground spinners, flitter sparklers, flash / strobes, and novelty devices including snakes, glow worms, trick noisemakers, party poppers, and snappers. Firecrackers, torpedoes, missiles, skyrockets, bottle rockets, roman candles, daygo bombs, mines and shells, chasers, and parachutes. No restrictions on time of year for sale, possession, or use. Explosive fireworks 35 lbs. or more in weight, 1 year prison and/or $3,000 fine. Explosive fireworks 35 lbs. or less in weight, 90 days prison and/or $700 fine.
Mississippi Consumer fireworks as defined by the DOT Cherry bombs, tubular salutes, repeating bombs, aerial bombs, and torpedoes. June 15-July 5 and December 5-January 2 1 year jail and/or $1,000 fine
Missouri Consumer Fireworks in compliance with the regulations of the CPSC. Ground salutes that exceed DOT limits. June 20-July 10 and December 20-January 2 N/A
Montana Items meeting the CPSC requirements, except for items specifically prohibited (see below). Mail orders prohibited. Skyrockets, roman candles, bottle rockets. June 24-July 5 and December 29-December 31. Misdemeanor, 6 months jail and/or $500 fine
Nebraska Novelty items, snakes, and sparklers do not require a permit to be sold in Nebraska. Gold and silver sparklers (colored sparklers prohibited) spray fountains, torches, color fire cones, star and comet type aerial shells without explosive charge, lady fingers not to exceed ⅞” in length and ⅛” in diameter, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed 50 mg. each, color wheels and any other item approved by Fire Marshal. Samples for all fireworks must be submitted to Fire Marshal prior to sale for separate test shoot examination. Permissible fireworks list issued annually in January. N/A June 25-July 4, except in Omaha, where fireworks are prohibited. Lincoln has a 2 day selling period. Class 3 misdemeanor; revocation of license, 3 months jail and/or $500 fine
Nevada Fireworks designated as consumer fireworks in some areas only. Dangerous fireworks, including large firecrackers, aerial displays and items that explode on impact or by friction. N/A N/A
New Hampshire Class C, Consumer fireworks which have been approved by the AFSL or other 3rd party testing agency including aerial cakes, reloadable aerials, roman candles, ground spinner, party popper, snake/glow worm snapper, wheel and sparklers. Firecrackers, stick rockets, parachutes, and any device that produces solely smoke. N/A N/A
New Jersey None Torpedoes, firecrackers, fireworks containing yellow or white phosphorus or mercury, sparklers, fireworks containing an ammonium salt, and a chlorate. N/A 4th Degree felony, 18 months prison and/or $10,000
New Mexico All items that comply with the requirements of the CPSC, except stick-type rockets having a tube less than ¼” inside diameter. Municipalities may prohibit use of aerial and ground audible devices. N/A N/A Misdemeanor, 1 year prison and/or $1,000 fine
New York Ground-based or hand held sparkling devices including cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, and wood sparklers/dipped sticks; party poppers, snappers. Aerial consumer fireworks, firecrackers and chasers, skyrockets, roman candles, bombs, and metal wire sparklers N/A B misdemeanor-D felony, pending the violation. B misdemeanor, 3 months prison and/or $500 fine. D felony, 7 years prison
North Carolina Sparklers, fountains, smoke devices, snake and glow worms, trick noisemakers such as party poppers, string poppers or snappers, and toy pistol caps. Explosive or aerial fireworks, roman candles, and rockets or similar devices. Class 2 misdemeanor, unless violation occurs indoors, then class 1. Class 2, 60 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment and $1,000 fine. Class 2, 120 days of active, intermediate, or community punishment, and fine deemed appropriate by court.
North Dakota Star lights, helicopter flyers, cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, wheels, torches, colored fire, sparklers, dipped sticks, comets, shells, soft shell firecrackers not to exceed 1½” in length and ¼” in diameter, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed 50 mg each. N/A June 27-July 5 Class B misdemeanor, 30 days prison and $1,000 fine
Ohio Sparklers, trick noisemakers & novelties are exempt under Ohio law. Other consumer fireworks may be sold to Ohio residents upon execution of a form agreeing to take the items out to the state within 48 hours, or to out-of state residents upon execution of a form agreeing to take the items out the state within 72 hours. N/A N/A 1st degree misdemeanor, 6 months jail and $1,000 fine
Oklahoma All consumer fireworks meeting the requirements of the CPSC, unless specifically prohibited. Novelties approved by U.S. DOT or deregulated by DOT. Skyrockets, including bottle rockets or stick rockets, M-80s, mail order sales of fireworks, and door to door sales. June 15-July 6 & December 15-January 2 (Retail Sales) Year-round by licensed manufacturers, distributors, or wholesalers. Misdemeanor, $1,000 fine
Oregon Consumer fireworks obtained from an Oregon permitted retail stand, such as cones, fountains, and wheels. Aerial fireworks such as bottle rockets and roman candles. Also, any type of fireworks not obtained from an Oregon permitted retail stand. No internet purchases June 23, through July 6. Class B misdemeanor, 6 months jail and/or $2,500 fine. An individual member of the general public who possesses fireworks of a retail value less than $50 is not subject to a civil penalty
Pennsylvania “Ground and hand-held sparkling devices,” “novelties” and “toy caps” as defined in APA Standard 87-1 are not considered Consumer Fireworks under Pennsylvania Law and are therefore permitted and not regulated by the Fireworks Law. The sale and use of these items are permitted at all times. All others – Except that a display permit may be obtained from the municipality where the Consumer Fireworks will be used. (Same permit requirements as for Display Fireworks) N/A Illegal use, $100 fine. Illegal sale of consumer fireworks, 2nd degree misdemeanor, 2 years prison and/or $5,000 fine. Illegal sale of display fireworks, 3rd degree felony, 7 years prison and/or $15,000 fine
Rhode Island Hand-held and ground based sparkling devices including fountains, illuminating torches, wheels, ground spinners, flitter sparklers, sparklers & novelties devices as defined in APA Std. 87-1. Aerial Consumer, Display Fireworks, and Pyrotechnics Unless permits are obtained. N/A Illegal possession of commercial fireworks, $500 fine and/or prison for 1 year. Illegal use of commercial fireworks, felony, $1,000 fine and/or 5 years prison
South Carolina Items meeting requirements of the CPSC except those noted below. Small rockets less than ½” in diameter and 3” long. N/A Penalties vary greatly depending on number of offenses and type, but most harsh is the illegal manufacturing, storage, use or possession of fireworks containing pyrotechnic composition in excess of two grains. This is a misdemeanor, punishable by 2 years prison and/or $10,000 fine
South Dakota All fireworks that comply with CPSC regulations All consumer fireworks made wholly or in part of dynamite, nitroglycerin, or giant powder. Specifically prohibits firecrackers June 27-July 5 Class 1 misdemeanor, 1 year prison and $2,000 fine
Tennessee Items meeting CPSC requirements Illegal ground salutes and mail order purchase of fireworks by consumers. June 20-July 5 and December 10-January 2. Sales by year-round retailers permitted Class C misdemeanor, 30 days jail and/or $50 fine
Texas All fireworks meeting requirements of CPSC and DOT Consumer Fireworks definitions, except for small rockets (less than 4 gms propellant, and casings less than 5/8 of an inch x 3 ½,” and overall length including stick of less than 1.8’’.) June 24-July 4 and December 20-January 1 Class C or class B misdemeanor, pending on whether there was property damage or injury. $500 fine, up to 180 days jail and/or $2,000 fine
Utah Those fireworks sold at retail for consumer use and those not designated as Class C Dangerous Explosives. Newly allowed in 2011 are aerial devices known as multiple tube, repeater, or cakes lit by a single fuse. Firecrackers, bottle rockets, missiles, roman candles, skyrockets, rockets mounted on a wire or stick, ground salutes, M-80’s, cherry bombs, aerial salutes, flash shells, comets, mines, single shot or reloadable aerial shells, aerials that contain over 500 grams of pyrotechnic material & other illegal explosives are prohibited. June 1-July 31, December 1-January 5, and 30 days before and up to 5 days after the Chinese New Year Misdemeanor, 6 months jail and $1,000 fine
Vermont Sparklers less than 14” long with no more than 20 grams of pyrotechnic mixture. Novelty sparkling items limited to snakes, party poppers, glow worms, smoke devices, string poppers, snappers, or drop pops with no more than 0.25 grains of explosive mixture, and that are in compliance with CPSC regulations Firecrackers, skyrockets, roman candles, torpedoes, and daygo bombs. N/A 18 months prison and/or $2,000 fine
Virginia Sparklers, fountains, pharaoh’s serpents, pinwheels, and whirligigs Firecrackers, skyrockets, torpedoes, and other fireworks which explode, travel laterally, rise into the air, or fire projectiles into the air N/A Class 1 misdemeanor, 1 year prison and $2,500 fine
Washington As defined by DOT not specifically prohibited (see below) unless prohibited by local ordinance. Firecrackers, skyrockets, salutes, chasers, and bottle rockets Noon June 28 to 9 pm July 5 and Noon December 27 to 11pm Dec. 31 Misdemeanor, 90 days jail and/or $1,000 fine
West Virginia Sparkling devices (fountains, wire sparklers, trick noisemakers, smoke devices, snakes) Firecrackers, torpedoes, sky rockets, roman candles, daygo bombs, bottle rockets, large reloadable shells. N/A Misdemeanor, 90 days jail and/or $1,000 fine
Wisconsin Cylinder fountains, cone fountains, sparklers containing no magnesium, chlorate or perchlorate; snakes containing no mercury, small smoke devices. Firecrackers, wheels, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, aerial salutes, and bombs. N/A $1,000 fine
Wyoming Consumer Fireworks meeting requirements of the CPSC. None N/A Misdemeanor, 60 days prison and/or $750 fine
Washington, D.C. Toy paper caps containing not more than 0.25 grain of explosive composition per cap, sparklers less than 20”in length, torches, box fire, fountains, cones, dip sticks, non-poisonous snakes, novelties, and colored lights. Firecrackers of any kind of description. Any fireworks that explode, (cherry bombs, salutes, roman candles, floral shells, artillery shells,) or intended to move after the piece is placed and fires (bottle rockets, parachutes, buzz bombs, pinwheels, helicopters, jumping jacks.) Sparklers more than 20” in length that contain dangerous chemicals, or any highly oxidizing agent. Fireworks having a side fuse, or a fuse inserted at any point along the length of the firework, and any firework found by the Fire Chief to be dangerous to the safety of any person or property. N/A 90 days prison and/or $500 fine

Notes on the table: it only covers state law; there are county and city ordinances of which a resident should be aware, as they may deem illegal what the state deems legal. Fines and jail time represent maximum penalty. Source: American Pyro.

Just as an example, in Kansas all fireworks designated as safe for consumer use by the Department of Transportation (DOT) are legal. This is not the same under Johnson County law, which prohibits just about any firework in existence. Overland Park, a city within this county, is slightly different, as it allows toy pistols, canes and guns with caps. The reason for such differences could be anything, but in, for example, California, drought conditions aren’t as bad in Eureka as they are in Los Angeles, which could very well be why fireworks are allowed in the former but not the latter. So, we cannot stress this enough, local ordinances can vary greatly from state and county law, and should be known and understood by anyone seeking to celebrate the Fourth.

You may have noticed that for a few states the law says that fireworks on the DOT list approved for consumer use are permitted. Which fireworks are on this DOT list? They are classified as UN0336, and whose “explosive effects are largely confined to the package and no projection of fragments of appreciable size or range is to be expected.” The firework should be labelled as such on its packaging.

Can I Sue If I Am Injured By Fireworks?

The short answer is, yes. There are many situations in which you can sue the manufacturer and/or the seller of fireworks in the event of an injury. If a defect in the firework caused an injury, they have product liability. A lawsuit such as this would seek to prove that a breach of duty by the manufacturer was a direct cause of the injury. In the case of a defect, you would likely have to be able to prove that you did everything correctly in terms of the handling and lighting of the firework. If it’s shown that you did something wrong, it could be proven that your improper use was what led to the injury, rather than a manufacturing error.

Negligence law can be somewhat confusing, as proving such a thing against a manufacturer or the seller of said manufacturer’s product would be quite difficult. But strict liability allows a person to recover damages from an unexpectedly dangerous product without having to prove negligence. If injured by a firework, the phrase “unexpectedly dangerous” could absolutely work against you, however, if suing to recover damages. Depending on the product and the situation, the defendant may very well try to argue that you, the plaintiff, assumed and understood the risks upon purchasing the firework.

However, there are many ways in which you could prove that the product was unexpectedly dangerous. Any design flaws, improper handling during shipment, or if using the firework exactly as it was intended, you can show that there was no reasonable expectation of danger. However, the manufacturer could try to prove, either from your story of use or length of ownership, that you knew about the potential defect but used it anyway. In this case, you would not be entitled to receive damages.

If you would rather not be injured by a firework and involved in a subsequent lawsuit, be careful to follow all safety instructions, and know the local laws regarding fireworks. Don’t throw any firecrackers in the sewer, have bottle rocket battles with your friends, and keep a close eye on the kids when they’re holding sparklers.

Featured ImageBy Firework shop (tony) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( 

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