Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Public Affairs Division – Washington, DC
At The Frontline Against Violent Crime
For Immediate Release
June 18, 2010
Contact: Public Affairs Division
ATF Warns Consumers: Illegal Explosives Devices Are Not Fireworks
WASHINGTON — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) wants consumers to celebrate safely this Fourth of July and be mindful that illegal explosives devices are not fireworks. Illegal or improperly used fireworks can cause severe injuries or even death. ATF wants to make consumers aware that illegal explosives devices are not fireworks. Users risk injury, disfigurement or death by manufacturing or using them. Illegal explosives devices — commonly referred to as M-80s, quarter sticks, or cherry bombs — often come in plain brown or white wrappers, with no identifying marks. Because they meet neither safety nor quality standards, they are extremely dangerous. They can be highly unstable because heat, shock or pressure can trigger accidental detonation. In contrast, consumer fireworks, unless restricted by state or local laws, are fireworks which can be sold to the general public. Consumer fireworks, defined in 27 CFR 555.11, include small firework devices designed to produce visible effects by combustion and which must comply with the construction, chemical composition, and labeling regulations of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Consumer fireworks are marked with brightly colored and decorated paper and include a trade name and manufacturing information. Items such as sparklers and small firecrackers typically fall into this category of fireworks.
Display fireworks, also defined in 27 CFR 555.11, are large fireworks designed primarily to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, deflagration, or detonation. This term includes, display pieces which exceed the limits of explosive materials for classification as consumer fireworks. Fireworks used in large public displays typically fall into this category. Further, display fireworks are generally wrapped in brown paper, and usually contain some identifying marks.
Any person engaging in the business of manufacturing, importing, or dealing in display fireworks must have an ATF license. Any person otherwise importing (for their own use) or receiving or transporting display fireworks must have at least an ATF permit. It should be noted that although finished consumer fireworks are exempt from ATF regulation, persons manufacturing such materials generally require at least an ATF permit to acquire explosive materials used in the manufacture of consumer fireworks (e.g., flash powder). If you require information on the classification of certain fireworks, please contact your local ATF office.
ATF is the federal law enforcement agency charged with enforcing federal explosives laws. ATF actively works with the CPSC, industry partners and with state and local agencies through their fireworks enforcement programs to prevent trafficking of illegal fireworks and to protect citizens from the dangers of illegal explosive devices.
Report the manufacture or sale of illegal fireworks or explosive devices to your local law enforcement agencies and by calling the toll-free ATF hotline at1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-283-2662), or emailing ATFTips@atf.gov.