We recently had a question regarding the storage of fireworks left over from the cancelation of a holiday event. This started me thinking – handling and storage of fireworks, how cities deal with fireworks displays, and the related state and federal regulation questions. The simple answer is there are specific regulations on the use, possession, and storage of explosives which includes display fireworks used in celebrations such as the Fourth of July. Some cities contract with a licensed vendor to handle the fireworks displays so the city doesn’t directly handle the fireworks. The city should, however, be familiar with the regulations. The information put out by the State of Minnesota and the ATF are good references to ensure the contractors are following the correct and safe procedures.
For those cities that do organize and handle the fireworks it is important to note there are specific storage requirements which must be met. Whether it be the fire department or police department who are in charge of handling the fireworks and putting on the displays, the regulations must be adhered to for both public and employee safety. The State Fire Marshal Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety has a Public Display Fireworks Operator Guidelines publication which outlines the regulations associated with the use, possession, display, and storage of fireworks. The storage of fireworks is regulated by the ATF and in the Minnesota Public Display Fireworks Operator Guidelines in Part E - Federal Requirements it references the ATF’s Regulations for proper storage. The ATF puts out the ATF Federal Explosives and Regulations book (The Orange Book) that has regulations for the possession, handling, and storage of explosives; where display fireworks fall. Fireworks must be stored in an ATF approved storage magazine built for the type of explosive being stored. The storage requirements of fireworks is outlined in the regulations and related tables for safe distances from storage facility to inhabited buildings and roads as listed in Subpart K – Storage. Subpart K outlines the requirements for storage of explosives and has tables for setbacks or distances from inhabited structures, roadways, railroads, and other storage magazines. These two guides should be downloaded and used in preparation for upcoming and future planned events where display fireworks are being used.
For your quick reference, here are links to the above mentioned publications put out by the State and ATF.
1. Public Display Fireworks Operator Guidelines - https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/sfm/programs-services/Documents/Fireworks/FireworksGuidelinesRevised2011.pdf
2. ATF Orange Book - https://www.atf.gov/file/58741/download