A Message From The Ohio Fire Marshal

June 28, 2007 - Fire Marshal Urges Ohioans to Attend Public Fireworks Exhibitions and Encourages Safety When Using Legal Fireworks

Columbus, Ohio - State Fire Marshal Michael P. Bell this year is encouraging Ohioans to attend public fireworks displays hosted by local municipalities and licensed exhibitors in order to reduce the risk of fire and injury this July 4th.

"The greatest way for Ohioans to prevent injury during the summer months is to attend a licensed, professional fireworks exhibition," said Marshal Bell. "Keep in mind that even trick and novelty fireworks like sparklers are inherently dangerous and can cause serious injury."

The only type of fireworks that can be legally purchased and set off in Ohio are trick and novelty fireworks. These include items that smoke, sparkle, snap and snake. For those who choose to have a family fireworks display using these legal fireworks, Marshal Bell encourages people to follow some important safety tips.

  • Handle and discharge trick and novelty devices only under adult supervision.
  • Appoint one adult to be in charge. This person should know the hazards of each type of firework being used.
  • Carefully read and follow the label directions on the trick and novelty device packaging.
  • Light only one sparkler at a time and hold it away from your body.
  • Sparkler wires should immediately be placed in a bucket of water to avoid injury as they remain hot for a few minutes after burnout.
  • If someone gets burned, run cool water over the wound for two or three minutes and seek medical attention when necessary.

Other fireworks, like those sold at fireworks stores around Ohio, can be legally purchased here, but you must agree to take them out of Ohio to set them off. "You must be at least 18 years of age to buy things like firecrackers and bottle rockets at the stores you see along the roadways of Ohio," said Bell. "But firing them off within state boundaries is prohibited."

Under Ohio's fireworks law, stiff penalties can be applied for the illegal possession or discharge of fireworks. It is a first-degree misdemeanor for non-licensed individuals to discharge fireworks in Ohio, to falsify an application when purchasing fireworks, or to possess them for more than 48 or 72 hours without taking them to the designated out-of-state address. First-time offenders are subject to up to a $1,000 fine and six months imprisonment. Subsequent violations become felonies of the fifth degree.

2007 Fireworks Frequently Asked Questions

What Types of Fireworks Are Legal in Ohio?

There are three types of fireworks in Ohio: Trick and novelty; 1.3G (display fireworks) and 1.4G (consumer fireworks).

Trick and Novelty Fireworks

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 also have passed laws that prevent these from being sold.

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. They can only be discharged by a licensed exhibitor in accordance with Ohio laws regarding exhibitions.

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 the purchaser will transport the fireworks outside the state of Ohio within 48 hours (or 72 for non-residents of Ohio). These fireworks cannot be discharged legally in the state of Ohio.

How Many Fireworks Stores are in Ohio?

There are 42 licensed wholesalers in Ohio. A licensed wholesaler may sell trick and novelty, 1.3G and 1.4G fireworks. In addition, there are 8 licensed manufacturers. They may manufacture fireworks as well as sell fireworks. In total, this makes 50 licensees who are authorized to sell fireworks in Ohio. There is currently a moratorium preventing the issuance of any new licenses.

What is a Purchaser Form?

A purchaser form is required to be filled out when purchasing 1.4G fireworks. It requires the purchaser to certify that the purchaser will transport the fireworks out of state within 48 hours if the purchaser is an Ohio resident and 72 hours if the purchaser is not. A destination must be given.

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. Most subsequent fireworks violations are a fifth degree felony. Violations include falsifying the purchaser form, failing to fill out 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 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 the 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 many injuries result from fireworks use?

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that in 2006, about 9,200 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks. Approximately half of the injuries were burns. The injuries most often involved the hands, eyes and head. The highest injury rates were for adults and children under the age of 20. The CPSC also reported 11 deaths related to fireworks in 2006. There is no specific system for tracking such injuries in Ohio.

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.

In 2007 to improve safety at exhibitions, the Division of State Fire Marshal conducted in-service training classes for exhibitors, members of the fire service, wholesalers and manufacturers. The Division of State Fire Marshal implemented a fireworks incident team (FIT) plan of operations to respond to the scene of any fireworks accident to investigate and assist local authorities. Investigations by FIT have lead 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. The permit specifies the date, time, location and various other parameters of how the exhibition will take place. 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. There are approximately 428 exhibitors in Ohio. All employees of exhibitors must be registered with the State Fire Marshal. There are about 1275 registered assistants of licensed exhibitors. Exhibitors must undergo six hours of training on fireworks laws and safety every three years, and must, in turn, relay that training to all employees on an annual basis.