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Ohio Law Governs Fireworks

Q: What does Ohio law say about fireworks?
A: Section 1301:7-7-33, of the Ohio Administrative Code, Explosives and Fireworks, says:
“The possession, manufacture, storage, sale, handling, exhibition and use of fireworks are prohibited except as permitted in accordance with Chapter 3743. of the Revised Code and this rule.” (See Subsection (c) 3301.1.3: http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/1301:7-7-33.)    

Q: What kinds of fireworks can be lawfully set off in Ohio?
A: Only “novelty and trick” fireworks, such as party poppers and glow worms can be discharged by unlicensed individuals. Section 3743.01 of the Ohio Revised Code defines these novelty and trick items as:  “(1) Devices that produce a small report intended to surprise the user, including, but not limited to, booby traps, cigarette loads, party poppers and snappers; (2) snakes or glow worms; (3) smoke devices; and (4) trick matches.”

Q:   As an Ohio citizen, can I buy and use fireworks?  
A: The State Fire Marshal has answered this question through the “Frequently Asked Questions” web page at www.com.ohio.gov/fire/FAQ.aspx:
“Yes, you may buy consumer or 1.4g fireworks from a licensed wholesaler or manufacturer; however, you cannot discharge any consumer or 1.4g fireworks in the State of Ohio. You must transport all fireworks purchased in Ohio out of the state within 48 hours of the purchase. The only items that can be used in Ohio are designated "trick and novelty," which smoke, pop, and/or sparkle. In Ohio, use of 1.4g fireworks (fire crackers, bottle rockets, etc.) is illegal. (R.C. 3743.65 (B)).”

Q: Are there criminal penalties if individuals violate the fireworks law?
A: Yes. First time offenders are normally charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. If they plead guilty or are convicted, they can be sentenced to up to six months in jail, and also fined up to $1,000. A subsequent conviction is a fifth-degree felony, potentially punishable by a prison term of up to one year.

Q: On the 4th of July, who may set off the large fireworks displays?
A: These aerial shells, known as “1.3G Fireworks,” can only discharged by a licensed exhibitor with a local permit. The permit must be approved by both the local fire chief and the local chief law enforcement officer, after the exhibition site has been inspected using an Ohio Fire Marshal checklist. 

Q: Are there licensed manufacturers and wholesalers in Ohio?
A: Yes. The Fireworks & Explosive Unit of the State Fire Marshal has issued licenses to firework wholesalers, fireworks manufacturers, fireworks shippers, and licensed exhibitors, registered assistants and flame effect technicians.

Q: Who should I contact if I find illegal fireworks or have a fireworks incident and need assistance?
A: You should report the discovery of illegal fireworks or any fireworks incident which results in injuries or property damage to a fire code official immediately. You can call the Investigations Bureau (614-752-7107) during business hours, or the emergency number (800-589-2728) after hours. The local fire code official must immediately make a report to the fire marshal. The State Fire Marshal inspector(s) and/or investigator(s) will then be dispatched to your location.

Q: Does Ohio law require a license for the sale and use of fireworks?
A: Yes, manufacturers, wholesalers, exhibitors and shippers of fireworks must have licenses issues by the State Fire Marshal to use fireworks. All licenses must be renewed each year.

Q: Can I get a license to sell fireworks?
A: Not at this time. In Ohio, a moratorium on the issuance of licenses to any additional fireworks manufacturers and wholesalers will remain in effect until December 15, 2015. If the current moratorium is not extended, applications for new licenses will be accepted beginning September 1, 2016. The first time a new license may be issued would be on December 1, 2016 (by law, the State Fire Marshal can only issue licenses on December 1 of each year). 

Q: As an Ohio citizen, can I buy and use fireworks?
A: You may buy consumer or 1.4G fireworks from a licensed wholesaler or manufacturer, but you cannot discharge any consumer or 1.4G fireworks in Ohio. You must transport all fireworks purchased in Ohio out of the state within 48 hours of your purchase. The only items that can be used in Ohio are designated “trick and novelty” fireworks that smoke, pop and/or sparkle. In Ohio, use of 1.4G fireworks (fire crackers, bottle rockets, etc.) is illegal. 

Q: Where can I get more information?
A: The Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Chapter 3743 and the Ohio Fire Code (OFC) 1301:7-7-33 govern fireworks in Ohio. These publications can be found on the Internet.

1/13/2014

This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA). This article was prepared by Lawrence T. Bennett, Esq., Program Chair, Fire Science & Emergency Management, University of Cincinnati. 
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Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney.

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