Information on Fireworks


Celebrating our country’s independence with fireworks is as American as apple pie. Our legislators recognized this and legalized the sale, possession and use of a limited number of fireworks by the public. However, as is discussed below, even though some fireworks are legal, they still present a significant risk of injury. And, illegal fireworks, because of their mechanism of operation, present an even greater risk.

The Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Division provides guidance on which fireworks are legal and which are not. Legal fireworks include wire/wood sparklers and other sparkling items which are non-explosive and non-aerial such as cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, illuminating torches, wheels, ground spinners, flitter sparklers, flash/strobes and novelty items such as snakes and glow worms, smoke devices or trick noisemakers which include paper streamers, party poppers, string poppers, snappers and drop pops. The law includes for each of these items a maximum weight of operating mixture. See MN Stat. §624.20.

Legal fireworks may not be used on public property such as parks, roads, alleys, schools, government property, etc. Purchasers must be at least 18 years old and retailers are required to check photo identification of purchasers. “Sky Lanterns” or “Celebration Lanterns,” those using heat from a candle to raise them skyward are not legal in Minnesota because of the fire and safety threat they present to buildings, homes, natural settings and livestock.

Illegal fireworks include those fireworks which are explosive or aerial such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, missiles, helicopters, aerial spinners, planes, UFO’s, chasers, parachutes, roman candles, mortars and shells. These are illegal to sell, possess or use except with a permit from your local government, and even then, they may only be used by a state certified operator. The law directs police officers to seize illegal fireworks. See MN Stat. §624.24. Violations of the fireworks law can be, depending upon the weight of the fireworks seized, either a gross misdemeanor (imprisonment for not more than 1 year, payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both) or a misdemeanor (imprisonment for not more than 90 days, payment of a fine of not more than $1,000, or both). See MN Stat. §624.25.

Per the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Fireworks Information Center, in 2012, on average, 200 were seen each day in the emergency room for fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday. The most frequently injured body parts included the hands and fingers (41%), trunks (15%), the legs (13%), the eyes (12%) and the head, face and ears (19%). More than half these injuries were burns. 23% of fireworks injuries were caused by firecrackers. 74% of the injured were male.

Even legal fireworks, such as sparklers, present a serious risk of injury. Most people don’t realize that a sparkler can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit which is as a hot as a blow torch. Would you knowingly hand a small child a blow torch to wave around or run with?

Exercising good common sense is the best way to minimize your risk of injury from fireworks. Obviously, avoid all illegal fireworks. They are inherently unsafe for use by the non-expert. Ask yourself: does the momentary thrill derived from setting of an illegal firework outweigh the risk of suffering a permanent disfiguring or disabling injury? Consider attending a public fireworks display instead.

When using legal fireworks, remember that children should not be allowed to ignite or play with fireworks. Follow the instructions on the fireworks, light them one at a time and move a safe distance away from them quickly. Do not pick up or attempt to re-light a firework that failed to go off. Use fireworks in a safe location outdoors and away from animals, buildings, storage tanks, brush or other combustible materials. Do not light fireworks in your hand, pick up fireworks that have been lit, lean over a firework you are trying to light or throw a firework. Soak all fireworks in water before disposing of them. Never make your own fireworks, modify or try to enhance a firework, or use fireworks in a manner for which they were not intended.

A word about mixing alcohol and fireworks: don’t! Not surprisingly, alcohol use increases your risk of being injured by fireworks.

If you have any questions contact us at 763-784-2501. Thank you and stay safe.

Centennial Lakes Police Department - 54 North Road - Circle Pines, MN 55014
Office: 763.784.2501 - Fax: 763.784.0082 - Dispatch/911: 763.427.1212