July Fourth Fireworks: What's Legal and What's Not in Illinois

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Are fireworks legal in Illinois and if so, which ones are allowed?

It's a question asked every Fourth of July as people prepare for their Independence Day celebrations.

The real answer varies depending on where you live in the state, but according to the Illinois State Fire Marshal, the explosive displays are regulated under two categories.

  • consumer fireworks, which include such items as fountains, repeaters and parachutes
  • pyrotechnic displays, which use professional grade fireworks such as mortars, cake bundles, and ground displays that depict a picture.

"Both types of displays are only permitted in villages, municipalities and counties that have passed ordinances allowing such displays," the fire marshal states, urging all residents to attend a professional display rather than setting off their own.

Which Fireworks Are Prohibited in Illinois?

Under Illinois' regulations, there are still some popular displays that remain prohibited for non-professional use.

Here's a full list:

 Handheld fireworks
 Bottle rockets
 Skyrockets
 Roman candles
 Chasers
 Buzz bombs
 Ground items other than those identified as Approved Consumer Fireworks
 Helicopters
 Missiles
 Pin wheels or any other twirling device whether on the ground or mounted above the ground
 Planes
 Sky Lanterns, the type of balloon which requires fire underneath to propelsame
 Firecrackers (all types)

Which Fireworks Are Allowed?

Again, this remains dependent on if you are in a location where ordinances allow such fireworks for non-professional displays. So be sure to check your local guidelines.

  • Cones including Showers of Sparks, Fountains, and Repeaters (also known as Cakes)
    • Single tube fountains must not contain more than 75 grams total of pyrotechnic composition. Cone fountains must not contain more than 50 grams total of pyrotechnic composition. Multiple tube fountains must not contain more than 500 grams total of pyrotechnic composition.
  • Mines, Comets, Tubes, Shells, Fancy Florals, and Parachutes
    • These items are firework devices designed to produce low-level aerial effects, which are propelled into the air by a lift charge. Shells will burst at the peak of flight to create a display of stars, reports or other effects or leave a trail of sparks until exhausted. These items contain a maximum of 40 grams of chemical composition and no more than 20 grams of lift charge.

It's important to note that all such fireworks must be ground mounted.

"No handheld Consumer Fireworks shall be approved," the fire marshal states.

Are Sparklers Legal in Illinois?

Illinois doesn't directly regulate "novelty effects" under its fireworks guidelines, but the state does give municipalities the right to prohibit the sale or use of such products on public property. So again, it is important to check local ordinances.

Here's what's included under "novelty effects":

•snake or glow worm pellets
•smoke devices
•trick noisemakers known as party poppers, booby traps, snappers, trick matches, cigarette loads, and auto burglar alarms
•toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns, or other devices in which paper or plastic caps containing 16 mg or less of explosive compound are used, provided they are so
constructed that the hand cannot come in contact with the cap when in place for the explosion
•toy pistol paper or plastic caps that contain less than 13 mg of explosive mixture

What Do You Need if You Want to Set Off a Display on Your Property?

Adults who want to set off a fireworks display on their own property, using only those classified as "consumer fireworks," can only do so in locations where it is locally permitted. If you live in one of those places and wish to have a display, here's what you'll need to do:

1. Obtaining approval from local authorities
2. Get a permit issued by the appropriate unit of local government
3. Attend an approved training with local fire department
4. Follow the rules for use in an approved area after a site inspection

What Should You Know Before Setting Off Fireworks in Illinois?

According to the state fire marshal, 163 people were injured by fireworks during 2020 in Illinois. More than 50% of those injuries affected hands.

According to the fire marshal, fireworks cause an estimated 19,500 injuries each year in the U.S., with most injuries involving hands and fingers, followed by legs. Burns account for 44% of fireworks injuries seen in and around the Fourth of July holiday.

Where Can You See Fireworks Shows in the Chicago Area?

Many of Chicago's suburbs are celebrating the state's reopening with the return of July 4 fireworks displays and Fourth of July celebrations.

Find where to watch Fourth of July fireworks near you here.

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