Since 2021, over 11,500 people were treated in Emergency Room's across the United States for fireworks related injuries. This represents a 25% increase between 2006 and 2021. [CPSC] The Arlington County Fire Prevention Office wants everyone to enjoy the 4th of July holiday this year by keeping it safe. Fireworks are dangerous and the lighting of fireworks should be left to the experts. We encourage everyone to safely enjoy the public firework displays, this year we must be especially careful at large gatherings. See this guidance from Arlington county – Viewing fireworks safely.

If you plan to use fireworks outside your home, follow these legal and safety tips:

Limitations & Prohibitions

  • Illegal Fireworks include:
    • Fireworks that explode, emit flames or sparks to a distance greater than 12 feet, have a burning fuse less than one and one half (1.5) inches long with a burning rate of less than 4 seconds which emit projectiles.
    • Fireworks that explode in any form, such as firecrackers, mortars and cherry bombs.
    • Fireworks that leave the ground or rise in the air (other than a fountain), such as bottle rockets, mortars or roman candles.
  • The sale of fireworks to minors (less than 18 years of age) is prohibited, unless a parent or legal guardian accompanies the minor.
  • Usage of permissible consumer fireworks(PDF, 1MB) by minors (less than 18 years of age) must be under adult supervision.
  • Permissible consumer fireworks(PDF, 1MB) shall be used on private property with the permission of the property owner. Use of any fireworks on County, State of Federal property, such as streets, schools and parks, or any public right of way, is prohibited.
  • The penalty for possession, distribution, use or sale of illegal fireworks is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 or 12 months in jail, or both, and confiscation of the fireworks. Parties are subject to additional charges for use of illegal fireworks, such as failure to obtain a Fireworks Permit Application and not being a Virginia State licensed Pyro technician.

Fireworks Safety Tips

  • Keep a minimum clearance of 25 feet from people and buildings.
  • Wet down the area before shooting fireworks.
  • Follow the label directions carefully and use good sense.
  • Buy fireworks only from established retail outlets displaying a valid permit issued by the Arlington County Fire Department Fire Prevention Office.
  • A responsible adult, whom is not under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, must supervise fireworks activities at all times.
  • Never allow young children to handle fireworks.
  • Use fireworks outdoors only, in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles.
  • Light only one a time and then move away.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a garden hose nearby or a bucket of water to place used fireworks in. Let them soak to ensure extinguishment before placing in regular trash for pickup.

Conditions for the storage and handling of permissible fireworks

  1. Application for fireworks permit application shall be filed with the Fire Prevention Office, accompanied with a certificate of liability insurance, with minimum limits as defined in Section 3308.1 Arlington County Fire Prevention Code.
  2. All fireworks shall have prior approval by the Fire Prevention Division before they can be stored or sold.
  3. All fuses of individual fireworks shall be taped to prevent their easy ignition while being displayed for sale. If the fireworks are displayed under glass; in sealed containers or bags; in box lots, or in some similar manner, the fuses need not be taped. The fuses shall be hard-coated or slow burning and in compliance with code. Quick match fuses are prohibited.
  4. Projectile type fireworks, fireworks which explode, or fireworks emitting sparks or flames for a distance greater than 12 feet are prohibited. All illegal fireworks shall be confiscated and the person responsible will be charged with violation of County law, maximum $2,500.00 fine and one year in jail.
  5. There shall be a competent person, at least 18 years of age, in charge of and working in each location at all times.
  6. “No Smoking” signs shall be placed every 10 feet of sales area (minimum of 3 signs) and located where they are visible to persons approaching the stand. Smoking will be prohibited in a radius of twenty-five (25) feet of the fireworks display. Signs must depict the International No Smoking logo.
  7. One Class 2-A water type extinguisher or an approved ABC multi-purpose type extinguisher must be provided for every 100 square feet of sales area. Extinguishers shall be identified by a sign and mounted in a visible and accessible location.
  8. Stands containing 1000 lbs or less of fireworks shall not be less than 30 feet from any structure or within 20 feet of any right-of-way line or street. Stands located within 100 feet of any building or structure, shall have the side or sides enclosed, which face the exposed structure. Enclosure shall be of approved substantial material that will satisfactorily deflect the discharge of any fireworks. Space underneath open display tables or counters shall be kept free of storage of any kind. Distances for quantities greater than 1000 lbs shall be approved by the Fire Marshal on a case by case basis.
  9. No stand shall be located on property where Class I or II flammable liquids are stored or within 100 feet of where dispensed.
  10. A distance of at least 25 feet from the stand or building shall be kept clear of any brush, undergrowth or combustible material, capable of spreading fire.
  11. No fireworks permit application will be issued until final approval from the Building and Electrical inspectors have been received. It shall be the responsibility of the stand operator to call for an inspection from the Fire Prevention Office (703-228-4644).
  12. No sale of fireworks to minors (less than 18 years of age).

For More Information

Fire Prevention Office
1020 N. Hudson St., Arlington, VA 22201
703-228-4655 (fax)