Frequently Asked Questions

What precautions should people take when using fireworks this Fourth of July?

Always read and follow the directions carefully.
Only ignite fireworks outside in a well-cleared area.
Have a responsible adult supervise all fireworks activities.
Light fireworks one item at a time.
Have a bucket of water available to dispose of used fireworks.

What are the different classifications of fireworks?

Consumer Fireworks (formerly known as "Class C" Fireworks) - Also known as 1.4G Fireworks. These devices are most commonly sold at neighborhood stands during the Fourth of July season. 
Display Fireworks (formerly known as "Class B" Fireworks) - Also known as 1.3G Fireworks. These are the fireworks used in large community displays run by licensed professionals (pyrotechnicians). These devices are not intended for use by consumers.


What is the maximum amount of explosive material contained in a consumer fireworks device?

The legal limit of explosive material in a consumer (1.4G or Class C) firework is 50 mg (about the size of half an aspirin tablet). Any item containing more than 50 mg is illegal and should be avoided.


How can I recognize an illegal firework?

Look for a manufacturer's name on each item or on the box in which they were packaged. Each device should also list instructions for proper use and have cautionary labeling. The manufacturer's name and cautionary labeling are required by law. Fireworks without this information are probably illegal and, therefore, to be avoided. If you suspect that you have illegal fireworks, contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms at 1-888-ATF-BOMB.

Cherry bombs, M-80s, M-100s, and silver salutes are all examples of illegal explosives, sometimes mistakenly referred to by the press as legal, consumer fireworks. These items are extremely dangerous. Fireworks made from mail order kits are illegal and dangerous. NEVER attempt to make your own fireworks or tamper with legal consumer fireworks. Be extremely careful when ordering fireworks over the Internet. If you do use the Internet to obtain fireworks, be sure that you are purchasing from an established, legal vendor. Also, be sure to know all of the local laws concerning the use of fireworks in your state before ordering any items.

 What fireworks are legal in my state?

The law is different in each state. For a breakdown of these laws by state, visit our Directory of State Laws. Please be aware that within each state there may be local restrictions as well. Please contact your local fire or police department for the laws regarding your area.

How many people use illegal fireworks? What can I do to stop the use of illegal fireworks?

The use of illegal fireworks is widespread and comprises a significant percentage of the injuries that are attributed to fireworks every year. The battle against illegal fireworks is being fought on many fronts. You can help prevent the use of these highly dangerous devices by staying away from any item you suspect may be illegal and by reporting the sale or use of any suspicious items to your local police or fire department, or to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms at 1-888-ATF-BOMB.

How many people are injured by fireworks each year?

Although the number of people enjoying fireworks today is significantly greater than ever before, the fireworks industry's numerous safety campaigns and consumer education programs are paying off, as evidenced by the amazing 44% decrease in the injury rate of fireworks-related accidents. Unfortunately, a large majority of these injuries are the result of the misuse of legal consumer items or the use of illegal explosives.

 How do fireworks work?

The basic ingredient of fireworks is black powder - also known as gunpowder. However, the creation of a fireworks display is truly an art form, one that has been perfected by some families for generations. The "paints" used by a craftsman of a pyrotechnic device are the different chemicals added during production. These chemicals provide the dazzling array of colors and visual effects on the canvas of a night sky, as well as the sounds (reports) that accompany the burst. The manufacturer carefully selects the chemicals to be used and determines the order in which they are packed into the casing in an effort to create a specific visual effect. Once the materials are packed into the casing, a fuse is affixed so that the device can be safely ignited. Although all of the colors and effects of a fireworks display are spectacular, the hallmark of a truly fine show are deep blue or dazzling white bursts - the marks of an expert pyrotechnician.

How can we best enjoy a fireworks display?

Here are a few tips to help you maximize your enjoyment of a public fireworks display: 
• Don't get too close. Sitting at least 500 feet from the fireworks provides the best view of the show. 
• Watch for the quality and brightness of the colors. Deep blue and dazzling white are especially difficult to produce. Count the number of explosions in a shell. High-quality display shells may have multiple explosions that vary in color. There should be no lag time in a professional show. There should always be something going on for you to enjoy. 
• Resist the temptation to keep any leftover material you may find after a show. The professionals that put on the display will clean up all materials afterwards.