July 4 Fireworks In Fairfax County: What’s Allowed At Home

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA — The coronavirus pandemic has led to the cancellation of many Fourth of July fireworks events. As families look for ways to celebrate at home, it’s important to remember the fireworks laws in Fairfax County and Virginia.

Many types of fireworks found in states with more relaxed fireworks laws are illegal in Virginia, except for use by licensed contractors. Illegal fireworks, as defined by Virginia code, “explode, travel laterally, rise into the air, or fire projectiles into the air.” These can include firecrackers, sparklers, bottle rockets, skyrockets and torpedoes. Possessing, selling or using illegal fireworks in Virginia is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

In Fairfax County, the sale and use of certain kinds of fireworks is allowed. The fire code allows fireworks described as “any sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents, caps for pistols, or pinwheels commonly known as whirligigs or spinning jennies.” Residents can use permissible fireworks on private property with the permission of the property owner. Fairfax County has provided a list of 2020 permissible fireworks.

Residents should look for fireworks at approved stands in Fairfax County. When purchasing in other localities, check the permissible fireworks list to ensure they can be legally used in Fairfax County. The sale of fireworks in Fairfax County is only allowed between June 1 and July 15.

Outdoor fireworks shows are only allowed with the approval of the Fairfax County fire marshal and a Fire Prevention Code Permit.

Although Fairfax County allows permissible fireworks, residents shouldn’t use fireworks in localities where use is banned entirely. The cities of Falls Church and Alexandria do not allow firework use excepted for permitted shows. Arlington County, City of Fairfax, Loudoun County, and Prince William County allow permissible fireworks.

With the pandemic canceling many shows, the National Fire Protection Association encourages residents to find safe alternatives to fireworks. The association estimates fireworks started 19,500 fires nationwide in 2018, causing five deaths, 46 injuries and $105 million in property damage.

“Even sparklers, which are often considered harmless enough for children, burn as hot as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause third-degree burns,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy at National Fire Protection Association.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue recommends the following tips for using permissible fireworks:

  • Keep all bystanders at least 25 feet away from 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. 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).

  • 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.

  • Read the directions on fireworks packaging.

  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.

  • If fireworks are being used near your home, put your pet in a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sound.

  • Make sure your pet has an identification tag, in case it runs off during a fireworks display.

  • Never shoot fireworks of any kind (consumer fireworks, sparklers, fountains, etc.) near pets.

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This article originally appeared on the Burke Patch