Fireworks shopping 101: What's legal, what's not

2014-07-03T00:00:00Z Fireworks shopping 101: What's legal, what's notBy Angela Pittenger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Fireworks sales may be a booming business this time of year, with grocery store displays and pop-up stands all over town, but lighting the wrong fuses can get you in trouble.

Being able to buy fireworks does not mean you can actually use them, since many of them are illegal in Tucson. While cities and counties can’t legally prohibit the sale of fireworks, they can restrict or prohibit their use.

Knowing what’s legal and what isn’t will ensure you get the most bang for your buck. Here’s what you need to know.

What types of fireworks are legal to use?

Novelty fireworks, which include small, hand-held sparklers no longer than 10 inches, toy smoke devices such as smoke balls and snakes, party poppers and drop caps are legal.

Ground spinners, sparkling-wheel devices, cylindrical, square and cone fountains, as well as California rocket-shaped fountains are permitted seasonally. That means you can use them now through July 6 for Independence Day, and again, Dec. 24 through Jan. 3.

What about fireworks that detonate in the air?

These are illegal to use within city limits and in the unincorporated areas of Pima County.

“The short of it is, anything that goes up in the air is not able to be used,” said Capt. Barrett Baker, spokesman for the Tucson Fire Department. This includes bottle rockets, skyrockets, Roman candles, helicopters, firecrackers, jumping jacks, M-80s and the like.

How do I know what’s what when I’m shopping?

In general, look at the labels on the packaging. “If it has a caution label, you can use it,” Baker said. “If it has a warning sign on it, those are not going to be able to be used in the city.”

Specific wording for acceptable products is “Caution: Flammable.”

Non-acceptable products will say “Warning!!!”

Are fireworks that big of a problem in Tucson?

“When it comes to fire-related things, the Fourth of July is like Day One when it comes to fires,” Baker said. “And a lot are attributed to fireworks. We’ve had zero rain for the most part, so obviously everything is really dry.”

Baker suggests wetting the area down before lighting any fireworks, and have a hose handy just in case.

What if I get caught setting off illegal fireworks?

You’ll end up paying a civil fine of $1,000.

Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at 573-4137 or apitteng@azstarnet.com. Follow her on Twitter @CentsibleMama or on Facebook at facebook.com/centsiblemama.

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