As Independence Day weekend kicks off nationwide, Chicago officials are reminding about the legality of fireworks and sparklers amid anticipated citywide celebrations.
Fireworks are banned across the entire state of Illinois, but in Chicago specifically, sparklers and bottle rockets are also banned for being "dangerous," according to Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt.
"The injuries that we see every year range from minor burns to catastrophic and life changing injuries that include loss of fingers, damage to eyes and even fatalities," said Nance-Holt. "The Chicago Fire Department will have resources out this weekend. Actually, we've added additional resources and we are prepared to respond to any emergency that the city has."
Last year, firefighters and paramedics treated 54 people with fireworks-related injures, she said.
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This year, Nance-Holt said the department hopes for zero calls of injures or deaths due to firework usage. She encouraged people to take advantage of citywide professional firework shows, like that of Navy Pier.
So, are sparklers allowed elsewhere in Illinois? And are some types of fireworks legal?
The answer varies depending on where you live in the state. In the state's two largest cities, Chicago and Aurora, the selling, possession and usage of fireworks is illegal.
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.
"Consumer fireworks displays are permitted ONLY in villages, counties and municipalities that have passed ordinances allowing such displays, while adhering to the requirements for use, AND using only approved types of fireworks," the Fire Marshall said.
Additionally, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, "Consumer fireworks may be purchased and displayed only by adults who have obtained permits from their local jurisdiction," a statement released Thursday by the IDNR said.
"Handheld fireworks, including fire crackers, roman candles and bottle rockets, are not approved for sale or use in Illinois."
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
- Roman candles
- Buzz bombs
- Ground items other than those identified as Approved Consumer Fireworks
- Pin wheels or any other twirling device whether on the ground or mounted above the ground
- Sky Lanterns
- Firecrackers (all types)
Which Fireworks Are Allowed?
This remains dependent on where you live, and whether or not a permit has been obtained for non-professional displays. So be sure to check your local guidelines.
Here's a list of fireworks that may be allowed in certain locations in the state:
- 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 in Chicago, for example, sparklers are illegal.
Here's what's included under "novelty effects":
•snake or glow worm pellets
•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
How Much Can you be Fined? And How Do you Report The Illegal Use of Fireworks?
According to the IDNR, fines could be hefty.
"Anyone possessing, using, transferring or purchasing display fireworks without a valid IDNR individual explosives license or storage certificate is violating Illinois law and could incur penalties," the IDNR said in a release on Thursday.
"A violation of the Illinois Explosives Act can be a Class 3 felony, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In addition, IDNR can assess administrative fines for violations involving display fireworks and other explosives."
Additionally, some cities have their own fines in place.
In Aurora, violators can be fined up to $1,000, with repeat offenders facing even higher penalties. And in Lynwood -- which borders Indiana, where fireworks are legal -- fines have increased from $50 to $750, the city says.
Reports of Illegal fireworks should be made to the city or county you live in.
In 2020, roughly 15,600 people across the country were treated in hospital emergency departments for fireworks injuries, up from about 10,000 emergency room-treated fireworks injuries in 2019, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Where Can You See Fireworks Shows Across Chicago and the Suburbs?
Here’s where and when you can see fireworks throughout Chicago area and the suburbs — including the famous firework show at Navy Pier.