Can You Use Fireworks in Ohio?

With certain exceptions, the use of fireworks are illegal in Ohio. Section 3301.3 of the Ohio Administrative Code prohibits “the possession, manufacture, storage, sale, handling, exhibition and use of fireworks” by unlicensed individuals, except for “novelty and trick fireworks.” “Novelty and trick fireworks” are defined 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.” Use of any other fireworks without the proper licenses and permits are prohibited. Snakes and sparklers are two of the most common types of novelty fireworks that are legal to use without a license.

Traditional Fireworks

Traditional fireworks, such as firecrackers, roman candles, and bottle rockets, may be sold in Ohio by a licensed manufacturer or wholesaler. However, they may not be set off in Ohio. Purchasers are required to sign a form stating the destination they will be taking the fireworks. They are legally required to be transported out of Ohio within 48 hours.

Fireworks used in large displays, such as those typically put on by the local municipalities are permitted but are subject to restrictions. These fireworks are known as 1.3G Fireworks. A licensed exhibitor may set off these 1.3G Fireworks only after obtaining a permit. In order to obtain the permit, the exhibitor must have the site inspected using an Ohio Fire Marshall checklist, and the permit must be approved by both the fire chief and the chief law enforcement officer.

Firework Licenses

The State Fire Marshall issues licenses to use fireworks. Manufacturers, wholesalers, exhibitors and shippers of fireworks must be licensed. The licenses must be renewed annually. No new licenses are being granted at this time. There is a moratorium on issuing fireworks licenses. If it is not extended, it expires on December 15, 2015. In that case, new licenses can be applied for on September 1, 2016. The State Fire Marshall only issues licenses on December 1st of a given calendar year, so the earliest time any new licenses will be granted is December 1, 2016.

 Criminal Penalties

Violators of the fireworks law are subject to criminal penalties. First time offenders are typically charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. If found guilty they face a maximum of a $1,000 fine and a six months jail sentence. Repeat offenders will be charged with a fifth-degree felony. This charge carries a maximum prison sentence of one year.