DIY Fourth of July

New laws give citizens more options for celebrating Independence Day at home

Firework laws had been the same since 1939.

Until last October, when a new fireworks law signed into practice enabled people to buy “Class C” “consumer-grade fireworks,” rather than simply ground-based pyrotechnics.

That means Pennsylvania residents can now buy firecrackers, Roman Candles, bottle rockets, and any fireworks containing a maximum of 50 milligrams of explosive material.

The law maintains that display fireworks, including those with salutes containing more than 130 milligrams of explosive materials, and professional-grade fireworks, which are aerial shells containing more than 60

milligrams of pyrotechnic material, are still only available to professionals with a permit from the municipality where they will be setting them off.

For local fireworks enthusiast Jay Newton, the change of law has been a pleasant one.

Newton said Monday morning as he perused a fireworks tent in North Warren, he’s been buying fireworks for many years and was happy to be able to buy aerial displays this year.

“It’s a big difference,” said Newton, in terms of what the average citizen can buy.

Still, it didn’t change the amount he spent on fireworks.

“I spent about the same as last year,” Newton said. Just on different things. He used to buy sparklers and fountains, but is happy to be able to buy rockets and aerial displays.

“They can be just like the ones you see at shows,” said Newton. They leave the ground and explode in the air. While Newton said he does have one grown son, he now enjoys setting off fireworks for his nieces and nephews.

Anyone 18 years of age or older can purchase consumer-grade fireworks, although restrictions to their use still apply.

Fireworks — even consumer-grade fireworks — can’t be ignited or discharged on public or private property without the direct permission of property owners. They can’t be discharged inside or in the direction of a vehicle or building. They can’t be discharged within 150 feet of an occupied structure. They can’t be discharged while the operator is under the influence.

Local municipalities may also have their own ordinances surrounding the use of fireworks.

Fireworks can be purchased from any licensed seller, including temporary ones (the big white roadside tents that tend to crop up around the end of June).

Licenses to sell fireworks are issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Temporary fireworks merchants can sell between June 15 and July 8, and Dec. 21 to Jan. 2.