Do You Know Florida Fireworks Laws?

Florida Fireworks Laws

Are you sure you know Florida Fireworks Laws? Around this time of year, those fireworks stands start popping up and selling cases of fireworks, so it must be legal.  Right? Your neighbors are shooting off explosives. Almost everyone is doing it, so it must be legal. Right?

Why go spend hours in a crowded park waiting for a show when you can get a Buy One-Get One package from a fireworks dealer? That’s literally twice the bang for the buck! They wouldn’t sell those fireworks if it was illegal.  Right?

The fireworks stores have you sign a waiver to make everything legal, so no worries.  Right?

Well, yes and no.

What Defines Fireworks in Florida?

Here’s the relevant definition of Fireworks according to Florida statute 791.01:

“Fireworks” means and includes any combustible or explosive composition or substance or combination of substances or, except as hereinafter provided, any article prepared for the purpose of producing a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration, or detonation.

The term includes blank cartridges and toy cannons in which explosives are used, the type of balloons which require fire underneath to propel them, firecrackers, torpedoes, skyrockets, roman candles, dago bombs, and any fireworks containing any explosives or flammable compound or any tablets or other device containing any explosive substance.

Combustible or Explosive Composition Fireworks

What is a firework? The statute governing the three designated holidays provides an exemption to laws already on the books that define fireworks as “any combustible or explosive composition or substance or combination of substances … prepared for the purpose of producing a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration, or detonation.”

Basically, that includes anything that flies, visibly explodes, and/or audibly goes boom with the notable exception of sparklers, cap guns, and flatulent animals.

This also includes the following novelties and trick noisemakers. The sale and use of which shall be permitted at all times/year-round.

ILLEGAL FIREWORKS” – Means and includes any combustible or explosive composition. Any article prepared for the purpose of producing a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration, or detonation.

This includes blank cartridges/toy cannons in which explosives are used, and the type of balloons that require fire underneath to propel them.

Visible or Audible Effect Fireworks

Bear in mind that this portion of the law limits the description beyond combustible or explosive.

If you can see it, then it’s visible. If you can hear it, then it’s audible.

Small Toy Exclusions

This isn’t to say that you’re going to get busted for using a cap gun. Toy pistol paper caps used in toy guns, or other devices in which paper caps containing twenty-five hundredths grains or less of an explosive compound are used.

Trick noisemakers, toy canes, toy pistols, a trick match, and sparklers approved for everyday use won’t cause any issues.

Here’s What Florida Fireworks Laws Permit

When you walk into the fireworks store (or stand), you see crates and boxes with cool names like Barely Legal, Lock and Load, and Tropic Thunder. There are special kits for an Aerial Avalanche and a Finale Spectacle.

Unfortunately for you, Florida Fireworks Laws only permit you to buy items classified as Sparklers. Remember those little sticks you light and sparks fly off, occasionally burning your wrist?  As a kid, you’d run around and wave them in circles. That’s still all you’re really allowed to have.

You can buy fountains, snakes, and glow worms – they’re classified as sparklers. To be fair, you can buy anything they sell. The problems come around when you try to use the fireworks.

Lighting anything larger than a sparkler for the purpose of putting on a show without a permit is a misdemeanor in Florida.  You may face up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.

The fireworks store may ask you to sign a waiver if you buy anything above a sparkler.  That waiver isn’t for your benefit and doesn’t give you a permit to use the fireworks.

If you take the time to read it, you’ll see it exists only to protect the fireworks vendor by declaring that you only intend to use the fireworks for a legal reason.  If you go ahead and use them for an illegal reason, you’re on your own.

What is a Legal Reason to Use Fireworks in Florida?

There’s a bit of a loophole in the law. If you own a farm or fish hatchery, you’re permitted to use fireworks to scare off animals. Frightening birds are good for agriculture.

Apparently, a great many other animals need to be frightened away on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. Using that excuse in Baldwin Park may not be very convincing if the cops stop to question you about your explosives, though.

Other than the potential for fines and jail, consider your neighbors. Some of them actually like living in peace & quiet.  I know I do.  

Although the COVID-19 epidemic put a halt to fireworks last summer, the Florida state legislature is now putting out more public fireworks. This is because Florida law creates three fireworks holidays — New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and Independence — which will ease the task of backyard pyrotechnicians.

However, many people are not happy about returning to work and setting off fireworks. This is because it is a dangerous and stressful job. In addition, the noise from the fireworks can be very unsettling for people who live nearby. Nevertheless, the Florida state legislature is moving forward with its plans to increase public fireworks displays.

Local Law Enforcement Departments Monitor Sales & Use

Since Florida law permits personal fireworks on three holidays of the year, my experience is that the local government lets people do what they want on those holidays, even with some violation of the law.

In fact, it’s very common to hear fireworks before and after designated holidays and I’ve rarely heard or seen any law enforcement action. Perhaps some other police officer will take action in egregious cases, but my observation is there’s little enforcement around the holidays.

They always encourage people to celebrate safely, purchase fireworks from reputable fireworks vendors, and beware of anything that produces sparks that could ignite a flammable compound.

The state fire marshal’s office requires a permit to sell anything from sparklers to fireworks in a tent.

You should NOT sign “waivers” in order to purchase fireworks. Signing a waiver does not clear you of responsibility should you be caught illegally using fireworks, which is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

If you’re operating a fair or commercial business using fireworks, expect more stringent regulations than the rules prescribed for consumers face in Florida statutes.

Places to View Fireworks

Epcot Fireworks 2019

A much better way to celebrate with some great fireworks is to go see a show.  

Amusement parks like Walt Disney World have nightly fireworks shows in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World’s Epcot. The best views are in the parks, but you can see them for free on other parts of Disney World property.

You can also find fireworks with other organizations like Sea World or Universal Studios Orlando.

I watched the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the Contemporary Hotel and it gave me a completely different perspective. There are bursts all along the length of the park that you just don’t notice while you’re inside Magic Kingdom. Sometimes it’s better to back off and catch the entire show.

Altamonte Springs puts on a concert and outstanding fireworks show with Red Hot & Boom at Cranes Roost Park. It’s on July 3rd, 2022.

Most people have Independence Day off from work, so they can stay up to watch the show and then sleep a bit longer on the holiday. In 2022, Independence Day is on Monday, so you can watch the show on Sunday and sleep late the next day to recover.

The event starts at 4:00 pm, but you ought to get there early if you want to get a prime spot. They don’t allow coolers, personal fireworks, or pets.  It happens rain or shine and the fireworks show itself is expected to be 25 minutes long.  

Here are some other places to see fireworks in Orlando.

When you think how much you’d have to pay, and the potential fine if you get caught, it seems like a no-brainer to go see a professional fireworks show.

Not to mention that your neighbors who stay home will appreciate the peace & quiet.

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20 Comments

  1. Quite interesting how you refer to “rednecks” in such a derogatory manner. Something tells me that you don’t have the courage to stereotype any other group of people that way.

    But here’s to you, William. Happy Fourth of July and you’re welcome from my family and ancestors that fought to provide you the freedom you have today. Enjoy it before you completely extinguish it.

    Hayden

    1. Hayden,

      Sorry you were offended by my use of the word “redneck.” I’m quite familiar with the term as I grew up with them (my mother is a West Virginia hillbilly, though) and live next door to one who refers to himself as such.

      As for ancestors, you better go way back. My oldest ancestor on the continent landed here in the 1500’s. Michael Beem was an aide to George Washington. I have ancestors who served in every war up to WWII. Not my credit, mind you. That was their service.

      You see, I have my own ancestors who fought for my rights to enjoy freedom of speech, and I need not be cowardly about it.

      Y’all have a nice day now, hear?

      1. My neighbor is a redneck too and he just shot some in the front yard tonight 12/18/16 around 7pm. Scared me and my pets! Thought my outside christmas lights were popping or it was a gun! I also just put a new roof on and that stuff from the fireworks, when it comes down, is still hot and leaves marks on roof tops as well as cars! It happened to my car a few years ago! And no, they don’t have common sense unfortunately! !

    2. The gay day celebration brought out a lot of illegal fireworks in my HOA. But seeing it is gay day all is well, but RedNecks are a different story

      1. Thanks for the comment. There seems to be a bit of difference in enforcing various laws in Central Florida. That said, a lot of people are shooting fireworks around me every night. They’re not going to have anything left for Independence Day if they keep going. I hear there’s a serious shortage of fireworks this year and what little is on sale costs about 20% more than last year.

    3. I wish it was banned like up North. No backyard use. People abuse them here. They need to take down places to get them. Its super dry this year too. I really hope this goes into effect because I have PTSD. What about the vets that have them too. Have a happy and safe 4th.

  2. Hi Hayden, I agree with you up to a point. “Rednecks” was not a suitable label. I would call some of these celebrating folks rude, annoying, un-neighborly, and (in some cases) dangerous. Many of them have no idea that they are breaking the law by lying on a fireworks purchase waiver that they sign. They do not consider the consequences of frightening livestock. Shooting burning embers into the sky in a small yard surrounded by trees is downright stupid. It’s even more stupid when the fire danger is high. Here’s the problem as I see it: by being morons and causing unrest, more of our freedoms could be compromised. If enough fed up neighbors put the pressure on, soon ALL fireworks will be illegal. Was that not your point?

  3. Patti, my neighbor is known to refer to himself as a redneck. It’s a label he wears proudly, although he doesn’t care much what anyone else thinks when he blows up fireworks or parks his truck across the sidewalk.

  4. Last night our neighbors (some of whom I would classify as rednecks and I AM one from a mill village in SC) decided that July 1 was a good night for fireworks. I had to medicate my little dog. We are seniors and we had trouble getting to sleep. I was born between VE and VJ day in 1945 so I have learned, from my relatives who survived that carnage, what fighting for freedom is and it’s not the freedom to scream “Fire!” in a crowded theater or make a public danger and nuisance out of oneself with fireworks (because the big bang enhances your manhood, maybe?)! Use some common sense!

    1. The same thing happened around here last night. My family was shopping in Target and we could hear the explosions. It sounded like Walmart was attacking the place. Got home and found more fireworks going off in the neighborhood and one of our dogs was terrified. While I appreciate a good fireworks show, I’m not a fan of the folks who shoot off their own noisemakers in the neighborhood.

    2. Why sell them If you cant use them, makes no sense at all. The consumers make money off the people and so do law enforcement this is a catch 22 . Not fair all all. The place that do the firework show they also make money . Who wants to be in a crowd with children f*** that .

      1. I just put in my ear plugs and go to bed after taking a few melatonin.The morons firing up after 8steady hours are simply out the money wasted as the neighbors ignore the 3 Imbeciles and laugh at the Peons firing peon size fire crackers.All told they’re Adults behaving like children..???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? This is about the same size as the things that they’ve spent hours firing TALK of being stupid ????????????????????

  5. Can people just wait until July 4th to set them off?!? I shouldn’t have to medicate my dogs every night leading up to then and then for at least a week after!! My poor dogs are scared to death!!

    1. Oh… and rednecks! Lol… people can be too touchy about labels like that. A true redneck wouldn’t be offended… they would embrace the nickname!!

    2. We had a torrential thunderstorm tonight. Yet in the middle of that downpour and thunder, I still heard more fireworks mortars going off at the same time.

      I can sympathize with your situation, as I’ve also had dogs frightened by these explosions. However, they aren’t just scaring dogs. Anyone who ever had to deal with a frightened baby when someone starts shooting off fireworks at 3:30 am can tell you that it’s more than an inconvenience.

  6. Just called Seminole County Sheriff’s out here three times. They told me 1st, it’s the “spirit of the law” on a holiday therefore no enforcement. Called back again because neighbors were told to stop. As soon as officer left, the illegal fireworks continued. On the third call, after the “grand finale” the Sgt. Said he can’t do anything unless he sees it. It didn’t matter that there was a uhaul truck full of rocket fired ,spent gunpowder, or that children wear running around their enebriated parents during the “show”. Clouds of smoke and burnt out tree lawn and pictures I took of the action.
    The police wonder why nobody wants to get involved. The police will be on the news tomorrow with pitiful stories of accidental tragedies from grown adolescents blowing the hands off their kids.
    Next year, ear plugs and Ambien. I don’t give a shot anymore.

  7. If it’s against the law….then these criminals should be arrested and thrown in jail. Shut down the private and retail sellers and get tough with offenders. Everyone seems to be forgetting another large group of people….people who suffer from PTSD! If people were really supportive of the first responders, the military and veterans they wouldn’t shoot explosives into the air for days and hours! Some people are very ignorant….

  8. Dear Hayden- STFU! I dont like the rednecks around my house shooting that crap off either. I can guarantee I have the balls to call YOU that and anyone else. WHo gives a $hit about your ancestors.

  9. I just put in my ear plugs and go to bed after taking a few melatonin.The morons firing up after 8steady hours are simply out the money wasted as the neighbors ignore the 3 Imbeciles and laugh at the Peons firing peon size fire crackers.All told they’re Adults behaving like children..???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? This is about the same size as the things that they’ve spent hours firing TALK of being stupid ????????????????????

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