Fireworks frequently asked questions

July Fourth fireworks
AP Photo/John Minchillo

2014FIREWORKS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What types of fireworks can be legally discharged in Ohio?

Trick and novelty fireworks (also known as exempted 1.4G fireworks) include items such as sparklers, snaps, glow snakes and smoke bombs. In general, these can be sold anywhere in Ohio and can be used anywhere in the state. However, some local communities have passed laws that prevent these from being sold or used.

What types of fireworks are illegal to discharge in Ohio without a license and permit?

1.1G, 1.2G &1.3G Fireworks
These are also known as display or exhibitor fireworks and include items such as aerial shells that are fired from mortars. They can only be sold by a licensed manufacturer, wholesaler, or, under limited circumstances, out-of-state shippers. They can only be sold to a licensed manufacturer, wholesaler or exhibitor who possesses a proper locally-issued permit. These fireworks can only be discharged by a licensed exhibitor in accordance with Ohio laws regarding exhibitions, including a properly issued exhibition permit issued by the local fire and police departments.

1.4G Fireworks
These are commonly referred to as consumer fireworks. They include items such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles and fountains. Only a licensed manufacturer or wholesaler can sell these items. Anyone over the age of 18 may purchase these items, but must sign a form certifying that the purchaser will transport the fireworks outside the state of Ohio within 48 hours. These fireworks cannot be discharged legally in the state of Ohio.

How many fireworks stores are in Ohio?

There are 86 licensed wholesalers in Ohio. A licensed wholesaler may sell trick and novelty, 1.3G and 1.4G fireworks. In addition, there are 12 licensed manufacturers. They may manufacture and sell fireworks. In total, this makes 98 licensees who are authorized to sell fireworks in Ohio. There is currently a moratorium preventing the issuance of any new sales licenses.

What is a purchaser form?

A purchaser form is required to be completed when purchasing 1.4G fireworks. It requires the purchaser to certify that the purchaser will transport the fireworks out of state within 48 hours. Purchasers also acknowledgethat they are responsible for any illegal use of the fireworks, including any damages caused by improper use and that making a false statement on the form is falsification under section 2921.13 of the Revised Code (a misdemeanor of the first degree).Thepurchaser’s copy of the completed purchaser form mustaccompany the purchased fireworks, be attached to aninvoice itemizing the quantity of fireworks purchased and theamount of the sales transaction, and must be made availableupon request by a law enforcement officer or fire authority.

Are there penalties for failing to follow Ohio’s fireworks laws?

Yes. Most first time violations of fireworks laws are first-degree misdemeanors, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. Any illegal fireworks can also be confiscated by law enforcement authorities. Violations include falsifying the purchaser form, failing to complete the form, failing to transport fireworks out of state within the specified time period, and discharging 1.4G fireworks. In addition to criminal prosecution, licensed fireworks manufacturers and wholesalers are subject to administrative enforcement actions for violations.

What are the dangers of using fireworks?

All fireworks are inherently dangerous. Consumer fireworks (1.4G) cannot be discharged legally in Ohio. For those who choose to use novelty items, the State Fire Marshal urges extreme caution. While legal, these can still pose serious health problems, including severe burns, injuries to the hands, eyes and face, and even blindness or hearing loss. For example, sparklers burn at up to 1800°, hot enough to melt gold. The risk of severe burns is real. In addition, puncture-type injuries to an eye are not uncommon. Also, most fireworks require a source of ignition, creating other hazards associated with supplying children with matches or lighters. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a show by a licensed exhibitor.

How does the State Fire Marshal promote fireworks safety in Ohio?

The Department of Commerce actively reviews and works to increase fireworks safety, both in showrooms and for public exhibitions. The Department focuses on the regulation and education of the fireworks industry and those involved in the exhibition of fireworks.

The Division of State Fire Marshaloperates a Fireworks Incident Team (FIT) to respond to the scene of any fireworks accident to investigate and assist local authorities. Investigations by FIT have led to both administrative and criminal action being taken against exhibitors who fail to follow the regulations.

What is the process for fireworks exhibitions?

A permit from local authorities is required for all exhibitions. That permit requires the signature of both the local fire chief and law enforcement official certifying the exhibition will be conducted in a safe manner as required by Ohio law. The permit specifies the date, time, location and various other parameters of how the exhibition will be executed. As part of the permit process, the law requires local authorities to inspect the exhibition site using a State Fire Marshal issued checklist of the shoot site before, during and after the exhibition. During the shoot, only registered employees and the certified fire safety official are allowed within the discharge site.Only licensed fireworks exhibitors can perform fireworks exhibitions.

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