PA fireworks laws explained.

So what’s the deal with the PA fireworks laws? Well, to be frank, it can be a little confusing to wrap your mind around. Not only are there PA regulations that affect your ability to buy fireworks, but within those regulations are references to titles and provisions in federal code and to definitions set forth by the American Pyrotechnics Association. I looked extensively through these codes and bills and came out with a headache.

To spare you the unneeded migraine of reading through those pesky PA fireworks laws, I’ll try to simplify the process. Let us first define what fireworks are. You have three types of pyrotechnic devices that most people refer to as fireworks. Ground based items, labeled “safe and sane,” consumer fireworks, and display fireworks.

How are Fireworks defined?

Let’s eliminate display fireworks from the conversation. These are huge, dangerous, and heavily regulated. You need a federal permit to get these, and fireworks retail outlets won’t carry these anyway.

Safe and Sane “fireworks” aren’t even considered fireworks by the state. There is no regulation on these, and anyone can walk into a store and purchase them.

Consumer grade fireworks are where it gets tricky. These are the ones that go up and blow up: mortars, cakes, firecrackers, roman candles, etc.

How to get consumer grade items according to PA fireworks laws

To purchase these, as a PA resident, you need to get a permit. These are simple forms that you fill out and have signed by a township official. Its not as hard as you think to get these. Download the form, head to your local fire station, precinct, or town hall and inquire within. We have plenty of customers who have had success. Remember, please be respectful, they are under no obligation to sign anything for you.

Out of state? No problem.

If you aren’t a PA resident, the protocol is a little more straightforward: bring your out-of-state photo ID, we will have you sign a waiver of liability stating you will take them out of state, and you’ll be on your way.

We don’t have any control over the laws, but we do abide by them. So if there’s ever occasion where we are unable to sell the aerial stuff to you due to the PA fireworks laws, please forgive us! We aren’t going anywhere, and as soon as you get your documents in order, we will be happy to serve you.

Zach is Media and Marketing coordinator at NOTBFireworks as well as a graphic designer and writer. He has been involved with fireworks retail and operations since 1993 when he was 9. Zach isn't sure he's too happy about that.

Best fireworks ignition and setup tips

It’s finally arrived, that moment you’ve all been waiting for: my annual pyro.space blog post. Last year, we talked about best buying practices, this year, I’m going to talk a little bit about best lighting practices, setup, and safety. If you’ve got a few cakes and some sparklers, a little common sense can go a long way, but if you’ve got boxes and boxes of cakes, mortars, rockets, and other explosives, setup and safety practices are crucial.

Don’t drink and ignite:

Obviously there’s going be drinks at your barbecue. It is highly recommended that you don’t drink and ignite fireworks simultaneously just as you should not drink while operating machinery of any kind. Fireworks, while safe when used properly, can be dangerous when not handled in a careful and appropriate manner. So try to keep the drinking to a minimum if you’re the one lighting them.

Don’t hold your roman candles:

I know you are going to ignore this one, but we highly recommend you don’t hold your devices. If you do ignore me and decide to hold your roman candles, hold them off to the side, because every once in a while, the last on can fire out the wrong side. Tying them to a flimsy stick isn’t a good idea either.

Never, ever, put your face (or anything else) over a tube:

It doesn’t matter if you never lit it or think it’s a dud. It rarely happens that a fireworks can be ignited accidentally by other fireworks, but it can happen. If a firework that you have already attempted to light is determined to be a dud (this also rarely happens with our product) there are times when firing from the tube can be delayed. To reiterate, keep your face out of the way of the tube.

Always make sure that your fireworks are lying flat on a stable surface:

These are powerful mortars and shells. If they are leaning, there’s a small chance for tipping. Minimize this risk by using plywood or setting the fireworks on asphalt or concrete. It also doesn’t hurt to set the fireworks behind something, so that if it were to tip towards the viewers, the object would deflect the shells.

If you can, keep a water hose or fire extinguisher around:

Again, small chance of needing either. Wouldn’t you rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it? Dousing fireworks after they’ve discharged would also fall under the umbrella of good practices.

Finally, ignite your pyrotechnics with something that will easily light your fuses.

Punks are a no go, they wibble-wobble whilst you try to hold the tiny end against a fuse (punks are great for keeping the bugs away). Matches work, but they are only one use, and can blow out. Cigarette lighters are slightly improved, but you’re definitely going to burn your thumb. Grill lighters turn out to be great for lighting your fireworks. They keep your body away from the opening and allow comfortable and easy lighting. The ultimate, best thing to use when lighting is a propane torch that you can purchase at any hardware store. These will instantly light the fuse and keep you from guessing whether you were successful or not.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Please use your brains and common sense, and good times will be had by all. Oh, and one more thing, load your mortars right side up, or this will happen.