As Independence Day approaches, individuals enthusiastic about backyard pyrotechnics are preparing to celebrate patriotically by igniting fireworks. However, it is essential to consider the legality of sparklers in Florida and other activities depending on your specific neighborhood.
In the state of Florida, the use of noisy or projectile fireworks is generally prohibited, except for a specific exemption, which will be mentioned later. However, a law enacted in 2020 allows fireworks to be used on three designated holidays; New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and Independence Day. Therefore, if you choose to launch your mortar shells or cakes from your driveway on the 4th, you are compliant with the Florida state fireworks laws and regulations.
Now, let’s delve into what qualifies as a legal firework according to the rules. Also, we will discuss the guidelines to ensure legality and safety when handling fireworks during the Independence Day holiday.
What is the Definition of a “Firework” in the State of Florida?
In accordance with Florida law, fireworks encompass any composition or substance that is combustible or explosive, or a combination thereof. Their purpose is to generate a visible or audible effect through combustion, explosion, deflagration, or detonation.
This broad definition encompasses fireworks that can fly, produce visible explosions, or emit audible sounds. However, it’s important to note that certain exceptions exist, such as wedding sparklers, cap guns, smoke bombs, cigarette loads, party poppers, and snappers, which were already considered legal for use in Florida. Interestingly, Florida regulations even provide a definition for “cigarette loads”.
Are Sparklers and Other Fireworks Legal in the Sunshine State?
There are only two specific instances where the use of fireworks is permitted in Florida. Firstly, the three designated holidays; New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and Independence Day. These dates are exempt from the regular fireworks laws in place. Secondly, Floridians are allowed to purchase and utilize fireworks for the specific purpose of “frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries.” This provision explains why individuals in Florida can visit fireworks tents or buy sparklers online throughout the year. However, they are required to sign waivers affirming that their purchase, such as a cartload of mortars and cakes, is intended solely for the purpose of scaring away crows or similar situations involving agricultural protection.
Can I Use Fireworks or Sparklers in Florida for the 4th of July and Other Holidays?
Indeed, during the three specified “designated holidays,” individuals are permitted to ignite commonly available fireworks. These include sparklers, roman candles, bottle rockets, aerial fireworks, fountains, and various novelty firecrackers. On these occasions, there is no requirement to demonstrate agricultural needs or any specific purpose for the use of such fireworks. This allows people to enjoy and celebrate with popular fireworks typically found in stores and roadside stands.
What if My City, County, or Homeowners Association Have Other Firework Restrictions?
As per Florida law, it’s important to note that the three designated holidays do not override any pre-existing local government ordinances or neighborhood covenants and restrictions that may already be in place. If the use of fireworks was prohibited or restricted in a particular area before, it remains the same during the designated holidays.
However, the law explicitly prohibits cities and homeowners associations (HOAs) from implementing new regulations or rules that would prevent residents from utilizing fireworks during the designated holidays. This provision ensures that residents can take full advantage of the fireworks holidays as permitted by state law, without facing additional restrictions imposed by local governments or HOAs.
Is There a “Curfew” for When I Can Use Fireworks or Sparklers in Florida?
The law does not provide a specific time limit for fireworks usage during the designated holidays. Technically, one would have until midnight when the official day ends and a new day begins to use them. However, it is important to consider that many communities have regulations in place that prohibit excessive, unnecessary, or unreasonable noise.
To ensure compliance and be considerate of your neighbors, it is advisable to use the noisiest fireworks earlier in the evening. This way, you can avoid disturbing others during late hours. To determine the specific noise or nuisance laws applicable in your area, it is recommended to contact your city or homeowners association (HOA) for accurate information. They can provide you with the specific guidelines and regulations regarding fireworks usage and noise restrictions in your locality.
Can I Use Sparklers in Florida on the 5th of July Since That Is My Day Off?
Congratulations on having a day off; I’m sure it’s extremely well-deserved. However, unless you qualify for an agricultural or fish hatchery exemption, it is necessary to refrain from using fireworks outside of the designated holidays, such as the Fourth of July. By adhering to the legal days, you will be abiding by the law. Additionally, your neighbors will likely appreciate your consideration, as well.
Will I Get Arrested for Using Sparklers or Other Fireworks on an Unapproved Day?
The likelihood of facing legal consequences for individuals using fireworks or sparklers in Florida outside of the listed exemptions is not likely. The official statute indicates that selling fireworks outside of the exemptions is a first-degree misdemeanor. However, there is no explicitly stated penalty for individuals igniting fireworks. Additionally, it is important to note that the statute does grant authority to sheriffs or their appointees to seize any fireworks found in violation. This is why so many people choose to stick to using sparklers for the 4th of July instead of larger items.
Nevertheless, it’s crucial to be aware that you may still be charged with violating local ordinances related to noise, public disruption, or any damage caused. The discretion to enforce such ordinances lies with local law enforcement. And, they may choose to take action based on the circumstances if they so choose. To ensure a safe and compliant celebration, it is advisable to adhere to the designated holidays and consider any applicable local ordinances or regulations.
What are Some Tips to Keep My Family Safe Using Sparklers or Other Fireworks at Home?
The following are safety guidelines for fireworks provided by the office of Florida’s State Fire Marshal. I urge you to read them carefully and take them to heart. That is the best way to guarantee a fun and safe experience.
Avoid Unapproved Sparklers
State Statute requires the State Fire Marshal’s Office to maintain an updated annual list of approved sparklers in Florida. It is crucial never to use sparklers without close adult supervision and ensure they are from the approved list. This will help you avoid knock-off sparklers that are made from harmful or dangerous chemicals and manufacturing practices.
Discard Damaged Items and Duds
Relighting fireworks that did not ignite properly can be dangerous, as they may explode unexpectedly. If a firework fails to light, always soak it in water to ensure complete extinguishment. This rule also goes for items that appear damaged right out of the package.
Protect and Supervise Children
It is important to never allow young children to handle fireworks or sparklers, as improper handling can cause severe burns. Instead, consider using glow sticks as a safer alternative for young kids to enjoy their celebrations.
Be Considerate to Neighbors and Pets
Keep pets indoors and at a safe distance from fireworks. Additionally, be mindful that many individuals in the state, including first responders and veterans. They may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and loud fireworks can trigger their symptoms. Show consideration for your neighbors and their well-being.
Keep Fire Extinguishers and Buckets of Water On Hand
Having a fire extinguisher available is essential for proper disposal of fireworks and sparklers. Using water or a fire extinguisher ensures that all materials have cooled sufficiently before being thrown away. This goes a long way towards reducing the risk of accidents.
By following these safety guidelines, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable fireworks celebration. Meanwhile, you will be considerate of others and preventing accidents or injuries. Using sparklers in Florida can be fun, but you have to do so responsibly. If you want to learn more, be sure to check out our sparkler safety page. Good luck and have a happy 4th!