Regulation of Fireworks & Pyrotechnics in Fairfax County: Because of the potential hazards to persons and property, the County Fire Marshal closely regulates fireworks and pyrotechnics in Fairfax County and the towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna. In accordance with the Code of Virginia (Section 27-96.1), the provisions of the Statewide Fire Prevention Code (Chapter 56) pertaining to fireworks shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to transport, manufacture, store, possess, sell, offer for sale, expose for sale, or to buy, use, ignite or explode any fireworks in these localities.
There are, however, exceptions permitting the sale and use of certain consumer fireworks approved by the County Fire Marshal; consumer fireworks legally permitted for sale and use in Fairfax County are known as permissible fireworks. In addition, outdoor fireworks displays are permitted when approved by the County Fire Marshal, and only after a Fire Prevention Code Permit (FPCP) has been issued to the person, firm, or corporation making application for a permit to conduct a fireworks or pyrotechnic display.
Illegal Fireworks: Each year, many of the personal injuries caused from fireworks accidents in the Northern Virginia area are a direct result of the improper or illegal use of fireworks. Many of these injuries are serious, leaving some people with permanent disability. Most consumer fireworks are not available for sale in Northern Virginia because they are illegal. Aerial shells, firecrackers, cherry bombs, roman candles, and skyrockets are just a few examples. These fireworks are often purchased in other localities and are the most common types associated with fireworks-related injuries. The term "fireworks" does not apply to automobile flares, paper caps containing not more than an average of 0.25 grain (16 mg) of explosive content per cap, or toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns or other devices utilizing such caps and items commonly known as party pops, pop rocks, and snap-n-pops.
LIMITATIONS & PROHIBITIONS
- Use of Fireworks: Unless expressly approved by the County Fire Marshal in the form of a Fire Prevention Code Permit (FPCP), the exploding, igniting, and use of fireworks is strictly prohibited in Fairfax County and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna. However, the supervised use of permissible fireworks on private property with the consent of the owner of such property is allowed, and a permit is not required. Fireworks obtained or purchased in other localities that are not permissible fireworks approved by the County Fire Marshal shall be prohibited.
- Sale of Fireworks: Unless expressly approved by the County Fire Marshal in the form of a Fire Prevention Code Permit (FPCP), offering for sale, exposing for sale, retailing, and wholesaling fireworks is prohibited in Fairfax County and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna. These permits are only valid from June 1 to July 15 of each year.
- Storage of Fireworks: Unless expressly approved by the County Fire Marshal in the form of a Fire Prevention Code Permit (FPCP), the storage and possession of fireworks is strictly prohibited in Fairfax County and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna. However, the safe storage of permissible fireworks on private property with the consent of the owner of such property is allowed, and a permit is not required.
- Manufacturing of Fireworks: The manufacturing of fireworks is prohibited in Fairfax County and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna. In addition, the use of pyrotechnic material obtained through the dismantling of fireworks for the purpose of building, assembling, or fabricating another fireworks device, incendiary device, or explosive device, is strictly prohibited. Permissible fireworks devices shall not be altered or modified.
- Transportation of Fireworks: The transportation of fireworks, when permitted, shall be in accordance with applicable federal and state regulations.
- Disposal of Illegal or Unwanted Consumer Fireworks: If you would like to dispose of any illegal or unwanted consumer fireworks in your possession without penalty, please contact the County Fire Marshal at 703-246-4849, TTY 711.
REPORTING FIREWORKS ACCIDENTS
Accidents involving the use of fireworks which result in personal injury or property damage shall be immediately reported to the County Fire Marshal through the Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC).
- Emergency situations should be reported by calling 9-1-1
- Non-emergency situations can be reported by calling 703-691-2131
When to Call 9-1-1; Tips from DPSC:
- 9-1-1 should only be used in an emergency.
- Call 9-1-1 when there is a life or death emergency that requires the immediate assistance of emergency service, such as the police, paramedics, and Fire Department.
- When there is a situation that requires police or Fire Department response but is not an emergency, call 703-691-2131 (non-emergency phone number).
- Click here for more tips on calling 9-1-1
NOTICES & PERMIT APPLICATIONS
To apply for a Fireworks and Pyrotechnic permit, applications and required documents can be found at our PLUS site. Using PLUS you will be able to apply for the following permits:
- Wholesale Fireworks
- Retail Sales of Fireworks, Firework Stands
- Retail Sales of Fireworks, Mercantile Occupancies
- Outdoor Fireworks Display
- Indoor Pyrotechnic Display
- 2020 Approved Permissible Fireworks List
Questions regarding Fire Prevention Code requirements or prohibitions related to fireworks and pyrotechnics should be directed to the Fire Inspections Branch at 703-246-4849, TTY 711 during regular office hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
PYROTECHNICIAN CERTIFICATION IN VIRGINIA
Pursuant to § 27-97 of the Code of Virginia (COV), the Fire Prevention Code will now require at least one person at each fireworks display be certified by the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) as a Pyrotechnician. As defined in § 27-97 of the COV, the use of “permissible fireworks” is exempt from Pyrotechnician certification. Also, pursuant to § 27-97.2 of the COV, the SFMO requires a national criminal history record information check for any applicant seeking certification as a fireworks operator or pyrotechnician. Each applicant shall submit fingerprint cards to the SFMO fingerprint on cards provided by the SFMO with personal descriptive information to be forwarded through the Central Criminal Records Exchange to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the purpose of obtaining a national criminal history record check on each applicant. Subsequently, in accordance with § 27-97 of the COV, the SFMO will deny certification as a fireworks operator or pyrotechnician if the applicant has been convicted of any felony.
Visit the Virginia Department of Fire Programs website for publications and forms associated with the Virginia Pyrotechnician certification program. Questions about certification requirements and the application process should be directed to the State Fire Marshal at 804-371-0220.
Permissible fireworks are defined by the Fire Prevention Code as any sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh's serpents, caps for pistols, or pinwheels commonly known as whirligigs or spinning jennies. The use of consumer 1.4G permissible fireworks not approved by the Fairfax County Fire Marshal is prohibited in Fairfax County and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna.
The Fairfax County Fire Marshal determines the acceptability of permissible fireworks through an annual evaluation and review process. Permissible fireworks (i.e., Consumer Fireworks, Division 1.4G) that meet the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory (AFSL) acceptable criteria during the evaluation and review process are listed in the 2020 Approved Permissible Fireworks List, and are permitted to be sold from June 1 through July 15 at fixed locations approved by the County Fire Marshal.
Permissible fireworks, and the use of such fireworks, shall comply with the following:
- Shall be approved by the Fairfax County Fire Marshal
- Shall not explode.
- Shall not move or perform as a projectile.
- Shall not emit flame or sparks to a distance greater than 5 meters (16.4 feet).
- Shall not be thrown or placed on any surface or article where it can cause an unwanted fire.
- Shall not be used on private property without the approval of the property owner.
- Shall not be sold or stored on the property of another without the express written permission of the property owner.
- Shall not be sold to persons under the age of 18 unless the person is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
- Shall not be used or ignited inside, under, or within 50 feet from any structure.
- Shall not be used or ignited within 100 feet of tents or membrane structures.
- Shall not be used or ignited within 300 feet of all fireworks retail sales locations including fireworks stands.
- Smoking shall be prohibited inside or within 50 feet of fireworks retail sales areas including fireworks stands.
- Smoking shall be prohibited within 25 feet of all permissible (consumer) fireworks located outside.
- Use of permissible fireworks for any purpose other than the approved and intended use shall be prohibited.
- Fireworks shall be used in accordance with manufacturers' instructions/directions.
Learn More About Permissible Fireworks in Virginia: To compare the Virginia definitions/specifications for fireworks with national model codes and standards, view the Virginia Department of Fire Programs website.
Tragedy can strike within seconds when fireworks are not properly and safely used. Consider the following safety tips when using permissible fireworks:
- During the use of permissible fireworks, minors should be supervised by a parent or legal guardian. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully functioned.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light one fireworks device at a time, then back to a safe distance immediately after lighting.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- Avoid buying or handling fireworks that come packaged in brown paper as this can often be a sign that the fireworks are commercial or display-type fireworks made for professional fireworks shows. These fireworks can pose a serious danger to consumers and the public.
- Adults should always supervise activities involving the use of permissible fireworks. Parents often do not realize there are more injuries from sparklers to children under five than from any other type of fireworks. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to melt some metals.
- When using permissible fireworks, place the device on a flat surface, clear of any combustible material and clear of all buildings (50 feet).
- Keep all bystanders at least 25 feet away from fireworks.
- Read the directions.
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
For an expanded list of fireworks safety tips, as well as information on fireworks safety-related publications, reports, videos, news, and recalls, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Fireworks Information Center online.