Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

June 26, 2003

Safety Precautions For Legal Fireworks

  • Fireworks laws and ordinances vary from county to county and state to state. Get the facts from your fire department, police or sheriff.
  • Legal fireworks businesses are open to local, State and Federal inspectors.
  • Items should be clearly marked Class-C common fireworks, list the marker and come with instructions for safe use.
  • Traffickers of illegal explosives devices sell items that meet no safety standards; sometimes these items explode spontaneously.
  • Consider all explosives materials hazardous, including fireworks. Each year thousands of injuries are linked to fireworks.
  • Children and fireworks can be a volatile mix. Adults should supervise.
  • Light one firework at a time, then move to a safe distance. Only light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from anything that might catch fire. Keep water handy.
  • Douse fireworks that fizzle with water. Don’t relight. Soak leftover items with water and discard wet.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place not accessible to youngsters. Avoid rough handling.
  • Avoid trouble and tragedy:
    • Never light fireworks in bottles or cans, or use them in ways they are not intended.
    • Never cut or take apart fireworks.
    • Never add ingredients to fireworks.

Legal Fireworks

Consumer (Class-C) fireworks are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and are legal only when permitted by state law. The manufacturer’s name must be visible on each package.

Illegal Explosives Devices

Illegal devices are not fireworks. Illegal devices are small bombs that maim, blind and kill.

Some street names for the devices are M-80, ashcan, cherry bomb, silver salute, quarter-stick, M-100 and M-1000.

Explosives materials in illegal devices exceeds the limit for common fireworks. The devices do not meet any quality standards and can explode due to heat, friction or pressure. Some production sites discovered by ATF agents are so polluted with volatile chemicals they cannot be cleaned up and must be burned.

People trafficking in illegal devices can go to federal prison for 10 years. Some have been tried for murder.

More information about ATF and its programs is available at