On June 22, 2023, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill No. 694, which intends to repeal outdated provisions in PA Fireworks Law. KingSpry’s Taisha Tolliver-Duran, Esq. highlights the impact of this potential law and what you need to know to avoid litigation subsequent to your holiday firework displays.
What Sellers Should Know
Potential Update in the Law
Should SB 694 pass in the PA House of Representatives, PA Fireworks Law will no longer include the provisions of NFPA 1124, which governs the manufacturing, transportation, storage and retail sale of fireworks and pyrotechnic articles.
Who Can Legally Sell Fireworks?
Section 1107 of PA Fireworks Law lists the requirements of firework sales locations. Consumer fireworks may only be sold from facilities which are licensed by the Department of Agriculture and meet the following criteria:
- The facility shall comply with the provisions of the act of November 10, 1999 (P.L.491, No.45), known as the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act.
- The facility shall be a stand-alone, permanent structure.
- Storage areas shall be separated from wholesale or retail sales areas to which a purchaser may be admitted by appropriately rated fire separation.
- For a facility issued a license under section 1108(a), the facility shall be located no closer than 300 feet from a facility selling or dispensing gasoline, propane or other flammable products.
- For a facility issued a license under section 1108(a), the facility shall be located at least 2,500 feet from another facility licensed to sell consumer fireworks.
- The facility shall have a monitored burglar and fire alarm system.
- Quarterly fire drills and preplanning meetings shall be conducted as required by the primary fire department.
- Subsection 8 will be repealed pursuant to the passing of SB 694.
The sale of consumer fireworks may also be conducted through an online transaction, but delivery of consumer fireworks to a purchaser must take place at a facility licensed under PA Fireworks Law.
Consequences of Illegal Firework Sales
- Consumer Fireworks– An individual selling consumer fireworks in violation of PA Fireworks Law may be charged with a misdemeanor of the second degree and fined $10,000 or more. A subsequent offense, within three years, may result in the same charge, a fine for $15,000, as well as a revocation of your license to sell fireworks.
- Display Fireworks– An individual selling display fireworks in violation of PA Fireworks Law may be charged with a felony in the third degree and fined $10,000. A subsequent offense, within three years, may result in the same charge and a fine of $15,000.
- Illegal Explosives– An individual selling illegal explosives, those prohibited under 49 CFR 173.54, may be charged with a felony of the third degree and fined $10,000. A subsequent, within three years, may result in the same charge and a fine of $15,000.
What Purchasers Should Know
Who can buy fireworks?
In Pennsylvania, individuals over the age of 18 years can purchase, possess and use consumer fireworks.
When can consumer fireworks be used?
In Pennsylvania consumer fireworks can be used on July 2, 3, and 4th between 10 a.m. and 1 a.m. the following morning. Because July 4th falls on a Tuesday this year, consumer fireworks may also be used until 1 a.m. on the preceding and following Friday and Saturday.
For additional rules and restrictions, check with your local municipality for applicable local ordinances.
Restrictions on the Use of Fireworks
For those who enjoy watching a fireworks display on the 4th of July, here are a few reminders as to what cannot be done:
- Fireworks cannot be ignited or discharged on public or private property without express permission of the property owner.
- Fireworks cannot be directed at another person.
- Fireworks cannot be discharged from or directed at a building or vehicle.
- Fireworks cannot be discharged within 150 feet of a building or vehicle regardless if the building or vehicle is owned by the user of the consumer fireworks.
- Fireworks cannot be discharged while the person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance or another drug.
Where can I buy fireworks?
To ensure a safe and beautiful fireworks display this 4th, purchasers should buy fireworks from a stand-alone, permanent structure which is licensed by the Department of Agriculture.
Who is Liable when things go wrong?
- Defective Fireworks: A defective firework can malfunction and injure the user or others, even when all steps are taken to ensure safety. When a design or manufacturing flaw is of fault, the manufacturer or retailer may be liable under a product liability claim. This legal action holds the negligent party accountable and the victim may recover compensation for damages suffered.
- Public Fireworks Display: If onlookers are injured at a public fireworks display due to improperly detonated or dangerously stored fireworks, the municipality or company may be liable for damages.
- At-home Fireworks Displays: If you are discharging fireworks this 4th, it is important to be well-versed and able to discharge them properly. If you do not follow the instructions, and cause debris to be shot in the wrong direction, you could be held liable for the resultant harm faced by others.
It is pertinent that fireworks are sold from a stand-alone, permanent structure which is licensed by the Department of Agriculture. To avoid harm and/or legal action, both sellers and purchasers must follow all provisions of Fireworks Law and local ordinances.
If you have any questions about Senate Bill No. 694 or Fireworks Law, an attorney at KingSpry is prepared to assist you.