What Fireworks Are Legal in Massachusetts?

Every year, thousands of people come together to celebrate the 4th of July holiday in Massachusetts. Most people celebrate with a staple activity: fireworks. While taking the family to see a professional fireworks display is a great way to mark the occasion, purchasing fireworks on your own is not. The State of Massachusetts bans the purchase, possession, and use of all fireworks by those who do not have professional licenses in the state.

Massachusetts’s Firework Laws

 Massachusetts has some of the strictest firework laws in the country. According to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 148, Section 39, the use of fireworks or combustibles with visual or audio effects is against the law. It is illegal to sell, keep, possess, use, control or explode any combustible substance or article prepared for producing a visible or audible effect. The law prohibits any article designed to explode, combust, detonate or deflagrate for noise or visual effects. This includes all types of fireworks.

Which Fireworks Are Legal and Illegal in Massachusetts?

 All consumer fireworks are illegal in the State of Massachusetts. No consumer may possess or use any type of firework unless he or she has a professional fireworks license. MGL Section 39 includes a list of specific fireworks banned, but it goes on to say that any similar fireworks, fireworks containing flammable or explosive compounds, or tablets or other devices containing explosive substances are also against the law.

  • Cherry bombs
  • Colored fires
  • Firecrackers
  • Fountains
  • M-80s
  • Mines
  • Rockets
  • Roman candles
  • Serpents 
  • Silver salutes
  • Skyrockets
  • Sparklers
  • Torpedoes
  • Toy balloons that require fire
  • Toy cannons
  • Wheels

 If you wish to purchase and use fireworks on your own, you must go through the process of obtaining a professional display license in Massachusetts. Pay the required fee and submit the paperwork by mail. The application requires a photo of you, a copy of your driver’s license, a notarized request form, evidence of active employment on a crew for professional firework displays, two letters of reference from other licensed professionals and a certificate showing you have completed a safety course. You will also have to pass a firework licensing exam. If approved, your license will be valid for two years.

What Happens If You’re Caught With Illegal Fireworks?

 You could face serious penalties if law enforcement catches you in possession of, selling or using any type of firework without a professional license in Massachusetts. The typical penalty includes seizing the fireworks and fining the perpetrator $10 to $100. If caught selling fireworks illegally, you could face a fine of $100 to $1,000. In some cases, the sale of illegal fireworks could lead to a jail term of up to one year in Massachusetts.

4th of July Safety Tips

 The best thing you can do for your family – for safety and legal reasons – is to leave fireworks to the professionals on the 4th of July. In 2018 alone, an estimated 9,100 people around the US had to go to emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries. Fireworks can cause severe burn injuries, eye injuries and ear injuries. Children under the age of 15 accounted for 36% of emergency room visits for fireworks in 2018. Fireworks also caused an estimated 19,500 fires, which led to 46 injuries and 5 deaths.

 If you or someone you know has a professional fireworks license, use fireworks responsibly. Never allow minors to use or light fireworks. Even sparklers can burn hot enough to melt metal. They can cause serious childhood injuries. Do not use fireworks close to any nearby structures or vegetation. Never use fireworks after consuming alcohol. Keep a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher handy in case of emergencies. The best way to keep yourself safe from fireworks-related injuries this Independence Day is by attending a professional show as a spectator. Find a fireworks show near you and celebrate the holiday responsibly.

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