Fireworks are a dramatic addition to any backyard party. With modern technology, it is easy to put together a professional-looking display, carefully timed to a soundtrack, to fit nearly any theme. Yet fireworks enthusiasts can get themselves in a great deal of trouble if they are uninformed about the laws regarding consumer fireworks, including their maximum legal size. Laws are subject to change, so always check the latest federal guidelines, along with your state, city, and county ordinances, before setting off fireworks. In general, though, here is a guide to help you out.

Federal Law

Federal laws classify fireworks into two categories. Fireworks labeled 1.3G (formerly Class B) are professional display fireworks. They are not legal for consumers to possess, and many states require special training and handling for them.

Consumer fireworks are labeled 1.4G (formerly Class C). At the federal level, these fireworks may contain no more than 50 mg of explosive material (about half the size of an aspirin). In addition, certain types of fireworks, including M-80s, M-100s, quarter sticks, cherry bombs, and silver salutes, as well as others that look like a roll of quarters, are federally illegal.

State Laws

As of 2018, only Alaska, Georgia, and Wyoming have no fireworks laws that are stricter than federal law. Every other state has various restrictions on consumer fireworks that residents must know. The strongest laws among states that allow consumer fireworks are in California, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. If you live in one of those states, it is vital to check your state laws to understand the precise details on not only what size fireworks are allowed, but also what types.

Consumer fireworks laws in other states vary from minor to highly restrictive. You are responsible for knowing and following your state laws.

State Bans

If you live in Delaware, Massachusetts, or New Jersey, all consumer fireworks are banned, without exception. If you live in Iowa, Ohio, or Vermont, you are limited to specific state-approved novelty items, which vary by state. Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island allow consumer fireworks only for those who complete a state-approved pyrotechnics course and carry a valid permit.

Local Ordinances

Cities, towns, villages, counties, parishes, and other local governmental bodies are free to set their own ordinances that are more restrictive than state laws. Some locales ban consumer fireworks altogether, while some set restrictions on size and type. Always check your local ordinances before purchasing fireworks.

There is no single answer to the question of maximum legal size for consumer fireworks, because it depends on where you live. At the federal level, the maximum amount of explosive material is 50 mg. At the state and local levels, though, consumer fireworks laws vary widely.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are ready to purchase your next fireworks, or you are simply seeking information on using them safely and responsibly, contact Dynamite Fireworks today at (219) 937-4090.