Almost everyone loves a fireworks display for the Fourth of July! Many area residents celebrate our country’s independence with their own fireworks. It’s important to know that important changes have been made to Georgia’s fireworks laws that may affect when and where they are used.
To address the issue of late fireworks use, state legislators have returned some controls to cities and counties through local noise ordinances. New state laws limit the use of “consumer fireworks” to between 10:00 AM and 9:00 PM on most days, with the end time extended to 11:59 PM on July 3 and 4 and December 31. Local jurisdictions may allow for later use if they so choose; one example is Alpharetta, where the end time is 10:00 PM for days other than those specifically noted in Georgia law.
“Consumer fireworks” are legally defined as any small fireworks devices generally containing restricted amounts of pyrotechnic composition, designed to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, that comply with federal constructions, chemical composition, and labeling regulations. Such “consumer fireworks” also include Roman candles, formerly classified as “fireworks.”
Georgia law now requires that a person must be at least 18 years old to purchase fireworks and that anyone under the age of 16 may not be in possession of fireworks. Those who are aged 16 and 17 years may be in possession of fireworks only when assisting a licensed distributor or certain identified benefiting not-for-profit organizations; they may never at any time transport fireworks on interstate highways.
In addition to the new age restrictions and time limits on fireworks use and possession, several other changes to Georgia law now stipulate that consumer fireworks:
>> Cannot be used within any park, historic site, recreational area, or other property owned or operated by, for, or under the custody or control of the City or County unless a special use permit has been granted.
>> Cannot be used within the right-of-way of any public road, street, highway, or railroad.
>> Cannot be used while a person is under the influence of alcohol or any drug (or combination) to the extent that is less safe or unlawful.
>> Cannot be used indoors or in any location where the individual is not lawfully present and lawfully permitted to use or ignite fireworks.
>> Cannot be exploded within 100 yards of a nuclear power facility, gas station, electric plant, water treatment plant, waste-water treatment plant, any public or private substation, a jail or prison, the boundaries of any public use air facility, any public aircraft landing area, hospital, nursing home, or healthcare facility (without owner’s permission) or a facility that refines, processes, or blends gasoline.
Even when properly used, consumer fireworks can be dangerous! In the one-month period around the July 4th holiday, an average of 230 people in the United States are taken to a hospital emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries. Of the injured, 34% are between the ages of 25 and 44.
We are reminded not only to enjoy consumer fireworks with utmost care in the safest possible manner, but to always ensure that a responsible adult is actively supervising. Enjoy the 4th!