Fireworks are endlessly exciting – until you end up in jail because you didn’t know the state’s pyrotechnic laws. As explosives, fireworks are tightly regulated across the United States. Though consumers can buy and enjoy fireworks in most places, it is imperative to understand what types of fireworks to buy as well as when and where to use them without breaking the law. Here’s a quick guide to fireworks rules in every state, so everyone can learn their local regulations by heart.
The vast majority of states in the U.S. have partially legalized consumer fireworks, which means that residents can use some types of fireworks at least some of the year. Many states will restrict the size of the explosive, permitting fireworks that contain less than 50 milligrams of powder, for example.
Other states will restrict the type of explosive; Arizona, for instance, does not allow most aerial fireworks.
Finally, many states constrain the sale and permissible use of fireworks to specific dates, usually around major holidays like New Years, July 4th and Diwali. Fireworks not consumed during the allowed time periods either need to be disposed of properly or stored safely until another window of opportunity arises.
In most states where fireworks are partially legal, state regulations give plenty of power to counties and cities to write their own fireworks rules. It is not uncommon for cities to prohibit all use of fireworks within their borders, even when many fireworks are legal at the state level. Therefore, even if fireworks are mostly legal in the state, look into the local city or county fireworks laws.
The states where fireworks are partially legal include:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
There are a handful of states where, at the state level, essentially all consumer fireworks are permitted. These states tend to have much lower population density than other states, which allows them to be more hands-off in their governance in general. As a result, fireworks regulations can be less strict without radically impacting the safety and well-being of many millions of people.
In states where consumer fireworks are legal, cities and counties may still write their own codes regarding fireworks use.
For example, Alaska boasts some of the most lenient fireworks regulations, allowing residents to use any fireworks less than 250 pounds – which includes many commercial-grade explosives – but in Anchorage, all fireworks are banned except in the days surrounding the New Year.
Therefore, even for those who live in a state well-known for its permissible fireworks laws, take the time to verify that neither the city nor county have their own regulations to which you must adhere. However, once you verify that you can set off as many fireworks as desired, look into ordering wholesale fireworks online to save time and money.
The states that have legalized almost all commercial fireworks include:
- North Dakota
- West Virginia
There is one state, and one state only, where all consumer fireworks regardless of size or type are completely and totally banned: Massachusetts. Massachusetts lawmakers determined that the number of fires that occur across the state as a result of mishandled fireworks is not worth whatever fun and excitement residents enjoy from the explosives.
Because Massachusetts is heavily populated and also quite forested, the risk of using fireworks is higher than in more sparse states. Fortunately, in Massachusetts, commercial fireworks displays remain permitted, so residents can continue to feel the awe and wonder of fireworks during New Years, 4th of July and other important holidays and events.
Fireworks regulations are constantly evolving as fireworks technologies develop and state and local lawmakers change. Any time you want to buy and use fireworks, it is a good idea to search local codes for the most updated laws surrounding fireworks use. It is the best way to avoid fines and other penalties during the biggest and best celebrations.