With lots of summer celebrations making use of fireworks, this is an appropriate time to learn the rules about transporting fireworks. These materials are considered explosives and they can burn up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. They should only be handled by a professional because improper handling can result in lacerations, burns, blindness, and amputation.
Before Transporting Fireworks, Learn the Classifications
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) defines two categories of fireworks sold in the United States. Consumer fireworks are small fireworks sold at stands and stores during Independence Day season. Import, storage, and distribution of completed consumer fireworks are not regulated by the ATF. However, other local, state, and federal agencies impose varying degrees of regulation.
Display fireworks are the larger fireworks used in Fourth of July celebrations. ATF regulations stipulate that anyone engaged in the business of manufacturing, importing, dealing in, or receiving display fireworks must have an ATF permit or Federal explosive license for the activity. Storage of display fireworks is subject to Department of Public Safety, state, and local regulations.
Federal Explosive Laws Regarding Transporting Fireworks
Federal regulations applicable to display fireworks require these and other explosive materials to be stored in locked magazines unless being transported to a storage facility or used by an individual who has acquired the explosives lawfully. When the transporting vehicle comes to rest for the evening, the materials are not considered to be in transit and are no longer subject to the exception, so the transporter must comply with federal regulations regarding overnight storage. Compliance with local and state regulations regarding explosives transportation and storage is also required.
According to federal regulations, federal explosives law does not apply to the transport of explosive materials via air, water, railroad, or highway. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and its agencies regulate this transport with a focus on safety. Individuals who plan to carry fireworks within or between states via one of these transportation methods should check with the DOT to identify applicable regulations.
Many state regulations stipulate that transporting fireworks across state lines is illegal. The mere use of fireworks for any purpose other than a permitted public display is illegal in some states. Before transporting or even purchasing fireworks, it is best to confirm the classification of the explosives and contact the regulating local, state, and federal agencies to learn what rules apply. Failure to adhere to transportation and storage regulations can have serious consequences.