PennDOT cash shortage could stall Mount Rose Avenue/I-83 project
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.
$1 for 3 months. Save 97%.

Know the law: New Pennsylvania fireworks rules in effect this Fourth

Jana Benscoter
York Dispatch
Fireworks light up the sky above Springettsbury Township during last year’s Independence Day celebration. The township will hold its fireworks display on Sunday. Photo: Dispatch file photo
  • The law states that Pennsylvania residents can now purchase and use “Class C” fireworks, commonly known as consumer-grade fireworks.
  • They can include, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and other fireworks that contain a maximum of 50 milligrams of explosive materials, the law reports.

Pennsylvania residents who had been banned from using powerful Fourth of July fireworks will have their chance to set them off for the first time this year.

Local leaders and law enforcement are encouraging consumers to exercise caution when using fireworks and reminding them that even though the law changed in October, consumers still need to follow the rules.

According to House Bill 542, one must be at least 18 years old to purchase, possess and use consumer fireworks. The law also states a person may not intentionally ignite or discharge:

  • consumer fireworks on public or private property without the express permission of the owner;
  • consumer fireworks or sparkling devices within, or throw consumer fireworks or sparkling devices from, a motor vehicle or building;
  • consumer fireworks or sparkling devices into or at a motor vehicle, building or another person;
  • consumer fireworks or sparkling devices while the person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance or another drug;
  • consumer fireworks within 150 feet of an occupied structure.   
Shell-and-mortar style fireworks disfigure more people than any other type. (Dreamstime)

Use caution: Northern York County Regional Police Department, in a statement, urged "everyone to use caution." 

“When complaints are received and violations are found, citations will be issued to the responsible parties,” according to the statement. “The fine for violating the new law is $100 plus costs.”

York Area United Fire and Rescue posted the rules on its Facebook page, taking their advice one step further. 

The department wrote, "... we would be remiss if we didn't encourage everyone to leave fireworks to the professionals to ensure safe and enjoyable summer celebrations."

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich reiterated the fireworks rules in a Facebook post. 

"With the passing of new fireworks laws, many folks believe that they can now use the larger consumer fireworks anywhere," Helfrich wrote. "The truth is that you must be 150 feet away from an occupied structure, meaning there are very few places in the City of York where fireworks can be used." 

What can consumers buy?:The law states that Pennsylvania residents can now purchase and use “Class C” fireworks, commonly known as consumer-grade fireworks.

They can include firecrackers, bottle rockets and other fireworks that contain a maximum of 50 milligrams of explosive materials, according to the law. Those items previously were available only for out-of-state residents to purchase.

Consumers are not allowed to purchase “professional grade” fireworks that contain more than 130 grains of explosive material, according to the law. Professionals must have proper permits through the state and local governing bodies.

High-explosive fireworks, including M-80s, M-1000s, quarter and half sticks are still illegal and cannot be used or possessed, the law noted. 

Injury-free holiday: Patient First, which provides non-appointment urgent care for routine injuries and illnesses, released the following five tips to follow to avoid accidental injuries. 

  • Sparklers cause most fireworks injuries.  They burn at high temperatures and can cause severe burns.  Do not let small children handle sparklers, and dispose of burned-out sparklers in a bucket of water.
  • Stay away from ground-based “sparkler” devices.  If one does not go off as expected, douse the device with water before approaching.
  • Distance is important at public fireworks displays.  Do not get too close to the launch site in case something goes wrong.
  • Do not pick up fireworks debris at these displays.
  • Just like drinking and driving, fireworks and alcohol do not mix.