What Fireworks Are Legal, Illegal In MD: Fourth Of July 2020

·6 min read

ANNAPOLIS, MD — No traditional proms or graduation ceremonies, and canceled or scaled-down weddings: 2020 has been a year of loss and stress thanks to the coronavirus pandemic in Maryland. Safety concerns led to school and business closures, and the cancellation of ritual gatherings like funerals.

While restrictions have eased, summer festivals, concerts and Fourth of July celebrations have been canceled in many communities. Many Maryland residents have taken a DIY approach to some things we're missing out on — hosting car parades instead of gathering for birthdays and holidays, or sprucing up their homes and patios.

See Patch's list below of Fourth of July events that are still on and those that have been canceled.

If you want to DIY your own Independence Day fireworks display, be sure to check the law. In Maryland, most fireworks — including bottle rockets, firecrackers, Roman candles, fire balloons, and signal lights — are illegal.

Only gold-labeled sparklers, novelty items — such as party poppers, snap pops, and snakes — and ground-based sparkler devices are allowed in Maryland, says the state fire marshal's office.

And it's dangerous. In 2018, a man at a Millersville party held a mortar tube in one hand and dropped a lit mortar into the tube with the other hand. The mortar was upside down, and the explosion within the tube caused catastrophic injuries to both of his hands, authorities said.

Fireworks are prohibited in Baltimore City, Montgomery, Prince George's, Harford, and Howard counties, as well as Ocean City, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

These items are prohibited across the state by Maryland law:

  • Black Cat fireworks

  • Bottle rockets

  • Crackling balls

  • Cherry bombs

  • Firecrackers

  • Helicopter-type rockets

  • M-80s

  • Mortar tubes — anything shot from one is illegal

  • Moving tanks or other vehicles

  • Roman candles

  • Sky rockets

  • Smoke bombs

  • Spinning wheels

These types of fireworks are allowed in Maryland, with exceptions noted below:

  • Gold-labeled sparklers (meaning they do not contain chlorates or perchlorates)

  • Novelty items (like snap pops, party poppers and snakes)

  • Ground-based sparkler devices

  • Toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns and other devices with paper caps so that a hand cannot touch the cap when the cap is in place for use

  • Paper-wrapped snappers that contain less than 0.03 grains of explosive composition

  • Ash-producing pellets known as "snakes"

Here are fireworks safety tips from the fire marshal:

  • Keep ignition sources away from children

  • Use fireworks only outdoors

  • Light only one firework at a time and move quickly away from the firework

  • Keep children and pets away from fireworks

  • Never light fireworks in your hand

  • Never throw fireworks

  • Soak used fireworks in a bucket of water

  • Clean up debris from fireworks

  • Never attempt to re-light a firework that did not go off

  • Wait 15-20 minutes if a firework did not go off, then soak in a bucket of water

  • Do not allow children to handle ground-based or hand-held sparklers. The temperature of a sparkler can reach 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • When handling sparklers, do not wear loose clothing.

  • You must be at least 16 years old to purchase hand-held and ground-based sparklers.

Where To Find Public Displays

If you're spending the holiday weekend at the Eastern Shore, Ocean City is not having a fireworks display on July 4. But the resort city does have a fireworks show every Thursday night at 10:30 this summer, through Sept. 3.

A few towns in western Maryland are still holding fireworks shows, and some museums are offering virtual history programs, pet parades and other celebrations. Find details on the Maryland Office of Tourism's website.

Fireworks Shows On And Off In 2020

Prince George's County: All Types Banned

All fireworks, including sparklers and snappers, are illegal in Prince George's County.

Montgomery County: 3 Types Allowed

In Montgomery County, all fireworks are illegal to possess or discharge, including gold label sparklers.

These three things are allowed:

Howard County: 4 Types Allowed

In Howard County, these types of fireworks are legal:

  • Party poppers

  • Ignitable "snakes"

  • "Snap-and-pop" noisemakers

  • Handheld sparklers

Penalties For Breaking Fireworks Laws

Possessing or discharging illegal fireworks is a misdemeanor that can lead to a $250 fine.

Selling fireworks without a permit is subject to a fine up to $1,000.

Transporting fireworks across state lines is illegal, officials say, including after purchasing them in neighboring states such as Pennsylvania where they are legal.

Ground-Based Sparklers Prohibited In Some Areas

When lit, ground-based sparklers emit a shower of sparks and light that can extend several feet into the air. They may whistle but do not pop, crack, explode, move or shoot any projectiles, and they must have a base.

These may look innocuous, but they can be dangerous. As a result, they are illegal in some jurisdictions.

Ground-based sparklers are prohibited in these areas:

  • Ocean City

  • Harford County

  • Howard County

Handheld Sparklers Are Hazardous

Handheld sparklers are prohibited in Baltimore City as well as Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

These can cause injury, and the fire marshal advises children not to handle them, as they can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.

In areas where handheld sparklers are legal, people must be at least 16 years old to buy them.

Annapolis, Anne Arundel Penalties

It is illegal to cross state lines and import fireworks for backyard celebrations, warns the Annapolis Fire Department. Fines of up to $250 for each firework device can be levied. Possession or use of explosive fireworks or large firecrackers such as M-100s or "Quarter-sticks" can carry a felony charge and a fine up to $250,000 and up to 25 years in prison.

In Anne Arundel County, including the city of Annapolis, the following types are legal: Sparklers, fountains, crackle and strobe, wheels and spinners. As a general rule, sparklers and any ground-based fireworks are legal, says the Annapolis Fire Department. Anything that launches, explodes, or flies is illegal.

Patch Editor Elizabeth Janney contributed to this story.

This article originally appeared on the Annapolis Patch

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