Fireworks Laws You Need to Follow

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The 4th of July is marked with reds, whites, and blues, barbecue food, and fireworks. This holiday, America’s birthday, is one of those few special times of the year that people can celebrate with fireworks, and it is the only time of the year to actually purchase them, believe it or not.


This 4th of July, make sure you are up to date on California’s fireworks laws if you plan on using them at your own party. The laws are easy to understand and follow, and will still allow you to have more than enough fun and excitement.


  • There are “Safe and Sane” fireworks and there are “Dangerous” ones. It is illegal for anyone to sell or purchase dangerous fireworks unless the person holds a special pyrotechnic license.
  • The only individuals who are allowed to purchase, own, and use “dangerous” fireworks are those with the special permit. It is illegal for this individual to sell or give away these fireworks to anyone, including friends and family.
  • A person must be at least 16 years of age to purchase “safe and sane” fireworks. They may only purchase from licensed retailers between June 28 and July 6 each year.
  • It is illegal for anyone to sell fireworks anytime outside of June 28 to July 6. If a retailer does not sell out within that period, they have no choice but to store it until that same period next year.
  • The state of California has fireworks laws, but then each county within the state may have additional fireworks laws. Wherever you are for the 4th of July, read up on the county’s laws.

Understanding and following fireworks laws is only going to provide half of the fun on the 4th of July. The other half will come from handling the fireworks properly, such as keeping them stored in a safe location, and allowing only those who are responsible and old enough to discharge them according to the printed directions. Every year the news picks up on some stories about mishandled fireworks that caused injury or death. That is not an outcome anyone wants after the 4th of July. Avoid the risk of this happening by using the fireworks safely.

In preparation for your 4th of July party, throw on all your red, white, and blue clothes, fire up the grill, invite all your friends and family, and prevent the need for any police and medical attention by using your “safe and sane” fireworks properly.

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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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What to Know About Fireworks

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You will not have to wait much longer to buy your fireworks for July 4. In just a few days time, it will be June 28, the first day people are allowed to purchase fireworks in California. Fireworks can continue to be purchased until July 6. Other than knowing when you can buy your fireworks, you will need to know what type of fireworks you can buy, and more importantly, how to handle them properly. Fireworks are not toys. They need to be in the hands of only those who are responsible and old enough to use them safely and properly.

Fireworks are categorized as either “dangerous” or “safe and sane.” Under no circumstances can dangerous fireworks be sold to the public. Dangerous fireworks include firecrackers, roman candles, rockets, sparklers longer than 10 inches, torpedoes, and more. Safe and sane fireworks can be sold to the public by licensed retailers. Safe and sane fireworks will have the Fire Marshal’s seal on the product to signify that it is a legal and approved firework for private citizen use.


No one under the age of 16 may purchase a firework. However, there is no law that states a 16 year old cannot be the one to set it off. Nonetheless, the 16 year old, or whoever sets off a firework, will need to read the instructions so they can do so safely. Parents are advised to be present.


It is illegal to discharge fireworks within 100 feet of a gasoline source or other flammable liquid. Fireworks must also be discharged outdoors, and away from tall trees, power poles, and other people. Having a hose and buckets of water on hand nearby is a good idea, just in case an accident happens.

Under California law, it is a misdemeanor crime to violate a fireworks safety code. Penalties include up to 1 year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. If a person is found to be in possession of dangerous fireworks, they may have to pay thousands of dollars in fines and additional jail time. The more dangerous fireworks in their possession, the greater the consequences.

To ensure everyone has a fun and safe 4th of July celebration, make sure that safety rules are followed when it comes to discharging fireworks. You sure would hate to have your fun night ruined by an accident, and the police sure would hate to respond to an incident.

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Fireworks Safety Tips

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Independence Day still seems like a way’s off, but there are people who are already gearing up for the day that will be filled with BBQ food, drinks, and fireworks. Those are three essentials to almost every 4th of July party and you can bet people are already starting to make plans with friends and family in regards to who is hosting and bringing what. If you are the one bringing the fireworks, make sure you bring fireworks that are legal and that you use them safely.

  • Purchase fireworks that are categorized only as “safe and sane” not “dangerous” from a permitted fireworks vendor. These fireworks will have the Fire Marshal’s seal stamped on them.
  • Keep fireworks stored away from fire sources and other flammable material.
  • When you are ready to use the fireworks, have a bucket of water and/ or a hose nearby, just in case.
  • Read and follow the directions as they are written on the fireworks.
  • If young children are using fireworks, make sure adults are nearby.
  • Use fireworks outdoors only, away from fire sources, dry grass, and other flammable material.
  • Make sure there no one is too close when the fireworks are being lit. Do not point them at people, property, trees, power poles, etc.
  • If you find that one of your fireworks is broken, throw it away rather than trying to fix it.
  • Tight fitting clothing is preferred for the people who are going to light the fireworks. Loose clothing can get in the way, potentially catching fire.
  • Fireworks are not toys, and must be handled with care and caution. They should only be used by those who understand the safety rules and will abide by them.
  • For any damages or injuries done from fireworks used by children, the burden falls on the parents.

Anyone found violating the rules and regulations for fireworks usage such as purchasing and using dangerous fireworks, inflicting damage or injury, or storing them in unsafe conditions, will be fined and could face jail time. Of course, the punishment depends on the severity of the violation.


If you do not want to risk using fireworks at your home, or even that of your friend’s, you can always bring the family to the local fireworks show that is organized by the city and the licensed fireworks operators.

Either way, whether you plan on playing with safe and sane fireworks on your own, or just leaving it to the official fireworks show for the community, we encourage all to have a fun and safe 4th of July celebration.

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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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