Summer is here, and many Pennsylvania residents have used fireworks for Independence Day and other summer time celebrations. However, it is important to follow the laws set for fireworks regulations to avoid an arrest or a serious personal injury.
In October of 2017, House Bill 542 replaced the Fireworks Act of 1939, bringing in new fireworks restrictions. So that you can properly prepare for the holidays, read on to learn the fireworks restrictions in Pennsylvania.
Which Fireworks Can Pennsylvania Residents Now Purchase and Use?
Consumers can purchase any Class C consumer grade fireworks. Some fireworks that were previously available only to out-of-state residents are now part of the allowed purchase types. These include:
- Bottle rockets
- Roman candles
Similarly, fireworks with 50 milligrams or less of explosive material are available for consumer purchase.
Only professionals can purchase and use “display fireworks.” This category includes professional grade aerial shells with more than 60 grams of pyrotechnic compositions and salutes with more than 130 milligrams of explosive materials. To set these fireworks off, professionals must acquire a permit from the municipality where the display will take place.
Who Can Purchase Fireworks?
Anyone who is older than 18 years old can purchase consumer fireworks. To buy and use display fireworks, an individual must have a license and be over 21 years old.
Where Can You Use Fireworks?
Pennsylvania law has restrictions on where both consumers and professionals may set off fireworks. No matter where you are or what licenses you hold, you may not discharge fireworks:
- From public or private property without the permission of the property owner
- Toward a motor vehicle or building
- While under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or other drugs
- Within 150 feet of an occupied structure, which includes any location or vehicle adapted for overnight stay, even if no one is inside
- From or within a motor vehicle or building
Beyond these general restrictions, licensed professionals must acquire a permit before hosting a fireworks show with display-grade fireworks. Permissible purposes for such events include:
- Agricultural purposes, such as raising and protecting crops
- Quarrying, blasting, or similar industrial use
- Signal or ceremonial purposes in athletics or sports
- Signal or illumination purposes by railroads and other transportation agencies
- Sale or use of blank cartridges for show or theater
- By military organizations and organizations composed of US armed forces veterans
Different municipalities may also have additional local ordinances. It is best to check with such parties before planning and conducting a fireworks display.
Where Can You Purchase Fireworks?
You can purchase fireworks from any licensed facility. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture issues such licenses. As long as the facility holds a license, you can even purchase fireworks from temporary establishments.
A temporary fireworks establishment can include structures such as tents, temporary retail stands, canopies, or other sales points set up outside of a building. These establishments may sell fireworks between June 15 and July 8 and December 21 and January 2 each year.
What Are Penalties for Inappropriate Fireworks Use and Sales?
Those who do not follow state regulations for fireworks use are subject to penalties. Anyone who uses consumer fireworks in violation of any of the use laws will be subject to a fine of no more than $100 upon conviction.
Sellers of fireworks face more restrictions on their actions. Those who sell fireworks illegally commit a second-degree misdemeanor for violating sales of consumer fireworks and a third-degree felony for violating sales of display fireworks.
Likewise, those who sell federally illegal explosives commit a felony of the third degree. Federally illegal explosives can include both banned fireworks and those untested, unapproved, and unlabeled by the United States Department of Transportation.
In addition to charges against them, those committing improper fireworks sales will have their stock removed, held in storage, and destroyed if deemed necessary. The Pennsylvania state police will conduct these actions at the owner’s expense. If you find yourself in a situation of this nature, you should call a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to find options.