Fireworks are often as synonymous with summer fun as patio furniture, pools, and grills. But know the fireworks law in your state before purchasing and setting off these dazzling pyrotechnics. Different state and local governments restrict fireworks. After all, we’re talking about something with the potential to start a fire or cause bodily harm if misused. Learn more about fireworks laws, and how to safely handle them, so you can enjoy them safely.
A Centuries-Old Tradition
Americans associate fireworks with 4th of July, but their use dates back much further than 1776. National Public Radio gave an overview of their history. In the ninth center, the Chinese lit bamboo stalks to rid environments of negativity and evil spirits – an essence still echoed in today’s NYE celebrations. Devices emitting gunpowder and light were included in European religious ceremonies and military tactics, then popularized in the United States. Colors were developed by the mid-1830s, and fireworks thus became part of popular celebrations and holidays.
Understand the Fireworks Law in Ohio
Firework laws in Ohio combine state and federal rulings. At the local level, anyone who sets off fireworks must adhere to the latest (ORC) Ohio Revised Codes 3743.50 – 3743.56, and (OFC) Ohio Fire Codes 1301:7-7-56. Public presenters cannot have felony convictions. They can only purchase fireworks from licensed manufacturers, shippers, and wholesalers. If you want to put on a commercial show, you have to obtain a license from the State Fire Marshal Fireworks and Explosive Unit, renew it annually, carry proper insurance, and also obtain a Flame Effect License if using open flames. If you’re simply just looking to set off some fireworks during a backyard party, note that pyrotechnics designated as 1.1G, 1.2G, and 1.3G require special permits. The same rule regarding licensed retailers still applies. However, an interesting law is taking shape regarding 1.4G fireworks. Currently, only fireworks labeled as “novelty” (such as sparklers), are legally allowed for private use. You can buy 1.4G devices, such as bottle rockets and firecrackers but cannot use them; instead, you must take them to an authorized state within 48-hours of purchase. Effective January 1, 2021, House Bill 226, will allow for 1.4G use in Ohio, albeit subject to community restrictions. Rulings for public and private can be found within the following codes.(NFPA) National Fire Protections Association Standards:
- 1123: Code for Fireworks Display;
- 1124: Code for Transportation and Storage;
- 1126: Standards Before a Proximate Audience.
- Title 16, Part 1507 Consumer Products, Fireworks Devices;
- Title 27, Part 555 Commerce in Explosives;
- and Title 49, Parts 172-174 Transportation.
Refer to an updated state law directory if you plan on using fireworks outside of Ohio, to see if any particular restrictions apply.
Always Act Responsibly When Using Fireworks
If you witness the illegal use of fireworks, contact the Fire Investigation Bureau or emergency personnel, if after typical business hours. An initial offense in Ohio is a 1st-degree misdemeanor punishable by 6 months’ jail time and/or $1,000 fine; additional offenses are then considered a 5th-degree felony, with the possibility of 1-year imprisonment. Since M80s and M100s are categorized as explosives, there will be additional charges of unlawful possession and use for setting those off. Legal or illegal use, if someone is injured during fireworks, you may be found guilty of negligence, and incur those penalties. As evidenced by recent events involving a Seven Hills man injured by homemade fireworks, and three Toledo pre-teens injured by using them without supervision, fireworks are not toys. Always follow safety precautions:
- Store them where children cannot access them.
- Keep clothing, hair, jewelry and all flammable materials away.
- Use safety glasses.
- Do not use homemade fireworks (which are also illegal).
- Do not aim towards people, animals, or containers that can catch fire and explode
- Keep water nearby. Drown unused/unwanted fireworks in water, before throwing out in the garbage
- Be mindful of young children wildlife, pets, and know the laws if a neighbor gets hurt on your property.
- Do not use fireworks if intoxicated or taking medications that may impair judgment.