APA Advisory - APA Std. 87-1 Final Rule Published!

November 25, 2020

TO:             , 

SUBJECT: APA Prevails in 10 Year Effort to Revise & Update the Voluntary Fireworks Classification

We are proud to announce that, following a decade long effort, the revised APA Standard 87-1 has been finalized and published in today’s Federal Register! The revisions will become effective 30 days from publication on December 28, 2020.

The breadth of the extensive revisions to APA Standard 87-1 will be significant and most beneficial to the industry, especially with regard to the manufacture and importation of consumer fireworks and articles pyrotechnic; thus saving manufacturers hundreds of thousands of dollars by allowing these devices to be self-certified if they conform to the criteria in 87-1.


APA Std. 87-1 is the consensus standard by which fireworks classifications are assigned based upon the weight and type of chemical composition contained for each specific type of device, including permissible and restricted chemicals. Originally developed and accepted by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1987, 87-1 has saved the industry millions of dollars in testing fees by permitting manufacturers to obtain EX Approvals by meeting its standards criteria, by- passing costly third party testing.

Previous revisions to 87-1 were completed in 1998 and 2001 to address new products. However, following the millennium and 9-11, the fireworks industry achieved record-breaking growth and with that growth came the expansion of product lines including the wide variety of new consumer fireworks which had been developed including crackling strings/balls/strips, flashers/strobes, nitrocellulose fountains, and specialty devices such as large firecracker strings, girandolas, and more. Moreover, the previous version of the standard did not account for advances in manufacturing, including a variety of proximate pyrotechnics devices which have been developed during the past decade due to the unprecedented growth in the live entertainment industry. These gaps have created delays and often forced companies to have their product undergo costly testing and classification by a DOT approved explosives testing laboratory, costing $8,600 - $10,000 per device.  


Over a decade ago, following severe delays in the EX Approval process that plagued the industry, the APA identified the need to revise the current 87-1. To that end, the APA Standards Committee was created. The committee held its first meeting in February of 2010 and began the lengthy process to review and update Std. 87-1 in order to provide continuity and clarity to the document.

Over the years, the Standards Committee has diligently worked to tackle the complex and often laborious process of updating the document to meet the needs of today’s fireworks industry. The revision process involved extensive engagement with PHMSA’s Approvals, Energetic Materials and Technical Staff. The updated standard is now divided into three separate stand-alone standards addressing consumer, display, and theatrical pyrotechnics. By creating three separate standards, the revision process will be simplified and expedited for future editions as each standard can be revised separately. The three separate standards are posted on the APA website and can be viewed by clicking here.

In March of 2018, the APA submitted a Petition for Rulemaking asking PHMSA to formally adopt the 2018 revisions to 87-1 and incorporate by reference (IBR) the standard into DOT’s regulations.  Despite opposition to certain provisions from a handful of parties, including the National Fireworks Association, the revisions were included as part of a broad, miscellaneous rulemaking proposal issued in the fall of 2019. While we were hopeful for a quick final rule, the COVID crisis stalled progress.

This past summer, APA Executive Director Julie Heckman engaged members of the he House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee staff to look into the Miscellaneous Petitions Rulemaking, which is where the entire revised APA Standard 87-1 has been stalled along with 23 other Petitions for Rulemaking submitted by other trade associations, waiting for OMB to clear and publish the rulemaking. The T&I staff made an inquiry on our behalf and relayed to us earlier this month the positive news of its pending publication. Please take a few minutes to review pages 75691 to 75694 of the document which set forth PHMSA’s rejection of the handful of opposing arguments submitted against APA’s revised standard, as well as their analysis of our extensive proposed revisions – which were all approved!

We wish to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all the members of the APA Standards Committee, particularly to longtime Chair Pat Cook, Galaxy Connection (retired) and current Chair, Shelly Gibbs Hastings, Winco Fireworks, for their steadfast commitment to the revision process. Additionally, we thank all APA members for their ongoing financial support of the association that makes long-term initiatives like this possible. APA’s Standard is a gift to the entire fireworks industry – one that all companies engaged in the commerce of fireworks, whether an APA member or not, should be grateful for. Happy Thanksgiving!

Advisory #2020-48