On the Fourth of July holiday, the tradition of having fireworks displays continues. It is during this time that it is important to remember that you could be hurt, hurt another person, or create significant property damage when using fireworks. In Pennsylvania, the state allows local governments to regulate fireworks and other flammable articles. Municipalities may grant a permit for public fireworks displays, establish the rules that are associated with the display, and impose relevant safety provisions. Localities may also regulate any manufacturing of these items.
The Pennsylvania State Police’s Public Safety Department defines consumer fireworks as items composed of a substance or mixture of substances that are capable of being detonated or exploding to create effects that may be seen or heard; these must be deemed as appropriate for public use according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission or the Association of American Pyrotechnics. The definition excludes sparklers which are hand-held, caps and other novelty items. Municipalities may issue a requirement that licensees have a bond that is at least $500 for potential payment toward damages that may occur to people or property that they are responsible for.
When local governing bodies grant permission for displays of fireworks and enforce rules, the displays are to be executed by those with competency as determined by the fire department or other authority and are subject to inspections. The purpose of the inspections is to maintain safety and prevent damages to people and property. Those seeking a license to trade in fireworks must do so through the Department of Agriculture. Applications for licensure require a fee of $5,000 per facility and will be subject to inspection by the Department within a period of 30 days. A decision by the Department will be rendered within 14 days after the inspection, which may occur annually. Permits may not be issued to those under the age of 18.
Facilities that are licensed with the Department must adhere to the following:
- Must be “stand-alone” structures not to exceed 12,000 square feet in size
- May not be located within 250 feet of facilities that dispense flammables such as gas or propane
- May not be located within 250 feet from another licensed facilities selling fireworks
- Maintain separate storage areas for product away from the buyer sales area(s)
- Maintain security on-site for a seven day period prior to July 4 and a three day period before January 2.
- Maintain an actively monitored alarm system to prevent intruders and detect fire
- Prohibit smoking in the facility
- Prohibit tobacco products and flammables such lighters and matches
- Prohibit the presence of minors unless they are with an adult
- Maintain $2 million in liability insurance coverage
- Provide employee training and submit written confirmation for each to the Department
- Prohibit the presence of display fireworks
- Prohibit those under the influence of drugs or alcohol to access the facility