With the 4th of July fast approaching, many Philadelphians have questions about what fireworks products are allowed in the city. Below, we’ll give you a quick rundown of the current state and local laws governing these festive firecrackers. This piece will also go over essential safety tips and show information for professional fireworks displays, as well as sharing what Philadelphia has in mind for celebrating July 4th in 2020.
Are Fireworks Legal In Pennsylvania?
Ever since House Bill 542 was passed in 2017, Pennsylvanian vendors can legally sell consumer-grade fireworks to residents. According to the law, these “Class C” products must each contain no more than 50 milligrams of explosive material. Some of the most popular legal items include:
- Roman candles
- Bottle Rockets
- Ground-based fireworks (e.g. cones, wheels, or fountains)
- Other Class C fireworks, that fall under the “consumer-grade” classification
It is still illegal to purchase fireworks that contain professional-grade pyrotechnics in the state of Pennsylvania.
By the way, tented vendors currently aren’t allowed to sell airborne consumer fireworks like Roman candles or bottle rockets. The only legal way to purchase these products is at a brick-and-mortar store. To find the closest fireworks vendor to your home, please click on this online store locator.
Can Philadelphians Use Fireworks?
As of July 3rd, 2019 it is now legal to purchase and set off fireworks in Philadelphia. Originally when House Bill 542 was passed, legalizing fireworks in the state of Pennsylvania, it was in direct conflict with Philadelphia’s Fire Code, which had expressly forbidden the use of fireworks in the city without a permit, but only one day before July 4th last year Mayor Jim Kenney amended Philadelphia’s fire code to comply with House Bill 542. so that it is now legal for people to purchase fireworks in Philadelphia.
The No-No’s For Using Fireworks In Pennsylvania
Even with the legalization of purchasing consumer fireworks in Philadelphia, there are many restrictions and laws regarding the use of fireworks in Philadelphia that citizens need to comply with. For starters, only people over the age of 18 can purchase consumer fireworks. Also, it’s against the law for anyone under the influence of alcohol or a psychoactive drug to use fireworks.
Here are a few of the places where it’s currently illegal to use fireworks in PA:
- 150 feet near “occupied structures” (e.g. homes or commercial buildings)
- Close to trees, power lines, or vehicles.
- Public spaces, unless you have written permission from the landowner or a permit.
- Inside buildings or cars.
Keep in mind that extremely loud fireworks might exceed local “noise pollution” policies as well. To read more on noise ordinances in Philadelphia, please read through this article.
Don’t Get Burned: Use These Fireworks Safety Tips!
Even if you’re well within the laws about using fireworks in Philadelphia, it’s important to practice vigilance when using commercial fireworks. Mishandling any of these products could easily result in damage to your property, third-degree burns, or eye trauma.
To ensure you’ll have a safe fireworks experience, it’s far better to purchase your goods from trusted vendors. Don’t settle for products that aren’t professionally packaged or show signs of wear-and-tear. It’s far better to pay a little extra for a quality product than to cut corners and end up with a burnt face!
If you’re unlucky enough to have a product that refuses to light up, then just toss it away. All fireworks products should ignite straight away, so never force a product to work by relighting it.
Celebrating July 4th in Philadelphia This Year, 2020
2020 has been a significantly different year than any we have experienced ever before. For the health and safety of all Philadelphians, the difficult decision was made to forgo the annual Wawa Welcome America live fireworks show, however that does not mean that there will be no celebrations, including the opportunity to see fireworks.
The multi-day citywide Independence Day festival will still be on this year with a shift to become a virtual event. From June 28th to July 4th a wide range of online activities will be available for your viewing pleasure. Everything from daily livestream concerts and virtual museum tours to food samples and contests for decorating your front door to celebrate Independence Day.
And you will still be able to see the grand fireworks show from 2019 on July 4th following that day’s concerts. You can find more information on this year’s July 4th Wawa Welcome America festival here.
Additional Resources On Philly Fireworks
If you have further questions about Pennsylvania’s fireworks policy, then click the link to check out the website put together by the Pennsylvania State Police answering common fireworks questions when using them in Pennsylvania. You could also read the entire text of House Bill 542 by clicking on this link.