Fireworks in Pennsylvania: How To Be Legal And Safe

Fireworks laws in Pennsylvania can be tricky to understand.

Basically, it’s perfectly legal to set off novelty fireworks including sparklers, ground-based fireworks and trick noise makers. Find them for sale at grocery stores, big-box stores, retail fireworks stores and roadside tents.

At first glance, some of these fireworks sold in these outlets might appear questionable — after all, the pyrotechnics get bigger and more advanced every year — but they are legal for residents to purchase.

“The only fireworks permitted for the public’s use are sparklers and devices containing extremely small amounts of powder, no more than in a toy-pistol cap,” said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan in a news release.

What’s not legal? Anything that explodes or creates a large aerial display. So forget about setting off firecrackers, Roman candles, cherry bombs or M-80s. You’ll be slapped with a fine if you’re caught.

To confuse matters, bricks and mortar fireworks stores in the state are permitted to sell aerial fireworks. But they are only permitted to be purchased by out-of-state residents or in-state residents with municipal permits, according to the Pennsylvania State Police.

Safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety:

  • Fireworks should only be used outdoors.
  • Always have water handy.
  • Only use fireworks as intended.
  • Do not try to alter or combine them.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework.
  • Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water prior to disposal.
  • Use common sense.
  • Anyone igniting fireworks should wear safety glasses, and spectators should stay a safe distance away.
  • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.
  • Never use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives.
  • Only persons older than 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.
  • Sparklers should only be used under close adult supervision.
  • Always remain standing and at least 6 feet from others while using sparklers.
  • Always wear closed-toe shoes when using sparklers.
  • Never hand a lighted sparkler to another person.
  • Never hold or light more than one sparkler at a time.
  • Sparkler wires and sticks remain hot long after the flame has gone out.

By Sue Gleiter |