Basic Fireworks Laws in California

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Fireworks are a unique sight to see. They can be witnessed on certain occasions every year such as 4th of July, and New Year’s. They can be seen more regularly at certain locations like at Disneyland and baseball stadiums. For the 2 big national holidays, private individuals are allowed to discharge fireworks on their own at their homes, provided the proper safety protocols are followed. California has very specific laws when it comes to fireworks, and consequences are enforced when the law is not followed.


There are two categories of fireworks: dangerous, and safe and sane. Dangerous fireworks cannot be sold to the public. These are generally the ones that are used during the large, public, holiday shows that are organized by licensed operators. Private individuals can purchase safe and sane fireworks from licensed retailers, but only between June 28 and July 6 each year. In addition, a person must be at least 16 years old in order to purchase safe and sane fireworks.


There are safety instructions on the package of fireworks. These instructions must be followed. Fireworks must be discharged outdoors only, and a safe distance away from other people and flammable items; have a bucket of water or a hose nearby. Only those who are old enough and responsible enough to safely handle the fireworks should be allowed to do so. By following these instructions, the possibilities of injury and damage are significantly reduced.

Though fireworks are legal throughout California, each city and county within the state may have additional laws that their neighboring city may not. Before setting off a firework, make sure you look up what you can and cannot do with fireworks in your area.

Anyone in violation of a firework law is subject to fines and possible jail time. For misdemeanors, it is a $1,000 fine and up to 1 year in jail. For felonies, like if someone was caught in possession of dangerous fireworks, the fine can be as high as $50,000 and the prison sentence can be as long as 3 years. If someone’s fireworks cause injury or damage, they can be sued and face additional charges that would increase the consequences.

4th of July is just weeks away and if you plan on using fireworks at your own party, rather than going out to view the public display, make sure you have the right fireworks and that they will be used safely. Being just a little bit more careful never hurts.

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The Rules of Fireworks

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For anyone who is starting to plan their July 4 activities, do not forget the fireworks! It is always great watching the big fireworks show that is planned for the general public, but at some point you get tired of going early to find parking and snag a good spot. Besides, this year, your friend is hosting a party and you do not want to miss it. This party still needs fireworks because what is a 4th of July celebration without them? If you plan on bringing some fireworks to your friend’s party, make sure you know what is and is not allowed. The last thing you want is for somebody to get hurt and the police to shut you guys down.

Fireworks are categorized as either “dangerous fireworks” or “safe and sane fireworks.”

  • Dangerous Fireworks

    In order to purchase and use dangerous fireworks, you must have a special license. Basically, the general public cannot purchase dangerous fireworks. Those who put on the official fireworks show for the general public can. These individuals have that special display license needed. Plus, purchasers with the special display license must be at least 18 years old.

  • Safe and Sane Fireworks

    The general public can purchase safe and sane fireworks, but only from licensed sellers and only between June 28 and July 6 each year. Anyone who wishes to purchase any safe and sane fireworks must be at least 16 years old.

There are penalties if someone disobeys any firework laws in California. They include up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Most violations are classified as a misdemeanor, but charges can increase to a felony if it involves dangerous fireworks and/ or an incident occurred that caused injury or even death. Felonies are punishable with more time in prison and thousands of dollars in fines, not to mention whatever you would need to pay for medical bills and legal fees.


In order to avoid accidents caused by fireworks, there are certain practices to follow. For example, legally purchased safe and sane fireworks should be used outdoors and away from trees and bushes that can catch fire. They should also be used away from sources of gas and other flammable items and materials. Responsible and mature individuals should be the ones using them, and children need to be supervised. Fireworks come with safety instructions so make sure to read those carefully.


California counties may have additional fireworks laws that differ from each other so make sure you understand what is and is not allowed where you are. Fireworks are a spectacle that everyone wants to enjoy. It would be awful to be the one to ruin the fun, so educate yourself so everyone can share in the fun.

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