February 20, 2012
Fireworks fall into two general categories: display fireworks, also known as 1.3G and consumer fireworks, 1.4G. In the United States, the Federal government has assigned regulation of fireworks laws to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Each branch has different areas of responsibility for fireworks laws.
Consumer fireworks are intended for use by the general public and contain less explosive power than fireworks used by licensed professional pyrotechnicians. Consumer fireworks should contain 50mg or less of explosive material for ground devices and 130mg or less of explosive material for aerial devices. These are the fireworks commonly found at your fireworks tents and stands around the Fourth of July. Consumer fireworks include such items as fountains, roman candles, rockets, firecrackers, mines and shells, helicopter-type rockets, and certain sparklers.
Display fireworks are large fireworks designed primarily to produce visible or audible effects for entertainment purposes by combustion, deflagration, or detonation. This includes salutes containing more than 130 mg of explosive materials, aerial shells containing more than 40 grams of pyrotechnic compositions, and other display pieces that exceed the limits of explosive materials for classification as consumer fireworks. Display fireworks are used at big shows put on by licensed professional pyrotechnicians, such as during a city Fourth of July celebration, a sporting event, or at concerts.
CPSC focuses on consumer fireworks laws and is tasked with determining which consumer fireworks are legal and for establishing safety regulations. Fireworks are considered hazardous materials and CPSC enforces fireworks regulations under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), enforces the Federal explosives laws and regulations for fireworks. An ATF license is required for everyone who is in the business of manufacturing, importing, or selling display fireworks. Anyone who imports display fireworks for their own use or receives or transports display fireworks must have at least an ATF permit.
In addition to CPSC and ATF, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates transportation of hazardous materials in interstate, foreign and intrastate commerce.
In addition to the Federal laws governing fireworks, state and local fireworks laws can vary widely. Be sure to check your state and local fireworks laws for regulations governing the possession, distribution or shooting of fireworks.
Please click on this link Directory of State Fireworks Laws to get an overview of the fireworks laws in your state. Please note that the information may not be the most current. It is recommended that you access your state's regulations directly to get the most up-to-date information. You should also contact your local fire marshal to get your county and city fireworks laws.