JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — When it comes to whether fireworks in Missouri are legal, it’s up to individual cities and municipalities to decide.
Each place sets its own rules while the state just points to federal regulations, Mike O’Connell, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said. Some places may allow fireworks in unincorporated areas during specific times of the day and extend those hours for the holiday, he said. But others ban individuals’ use outright.
“Before you buy fireworks, check: ‘Are they legal to use where I live?’” O’Connell said.
Federal regulations allow for consumer fireworks in compliance with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission but prohibit more “dangerous” ones, such as: cherry bombs, reloadable mortar shells, aerial bombs, and large firecrackers containing more than two grains of powder.
The Division of Public Safety issued more than 1,200 permits to seasonal fireworks retailers this year. These licensed retailers are able to sell fireworks from June 20 to July 10.
For those who choose to use fireworks in holiday celebrations, the Department of Public Safety recommends the following tips:
- Confirm fireworks are legal where you live; purchase fireworks only from licensed retailers
- Only use fireworks in a large open space that has been cleared of flammable materials
- Always keep young children away from fireworks; if teens are permitted to handle fireworks, they should be closely supervised by an adult; always wear eye protection
- Make sure to have a garden hose or a bucket of water nearby in case of a fire
- Only light fireworks one at a time; never try to re-light fireworks that have malfunctioned
- Dispose of fireworks by soaking them in water and leaving them in a trash can
- Never shoot fireworks off from a glass jar or container
- Never use fireworks while consuming alcohol
- Never store fireworks from season to season
In 2016, 400 people visited the hospital for injuries related to fireworks in Missouri; 33 of those people were admitted to the hospital, whereas the others were treated and released. Professional shows that put on a public fireworks display are most likely the safest way to celebrate, O’Connell said.
Here’s a brief look at how some cities across the state regulate fireworks.
It is illegal for anyone to sell or use any fireworks in the city other than what is deemed permissible by Cape Girardeau’s city code. Permissible fireworks are novelties, trick noisemakers, and “common fireworks,” such as certain sparklers. The fire chief can approve permits for a maximum period of 24 hours for the possession and use of fireworks, including special fireworks, for public displays.
Anyone who possesses or sets off fireworks or firecrackers — such as a Roman candle or torpedo — without a permit is guilty of a misdemeanor offense in Columbia, according to city code. The city manager is able to issue permits for special events to include firework displays.
Jefferson City prohibits the manufacture and sale of fireworks within the city. However, the Jefferson City Fire Department can issue permits for the display and discharge of fireworks. Applications for such a permit must be submitted at least 15 days prior to the event.
In Kansas City, Missouri, it is illegal for someone to possess, keep, store, offer, sell, explode, or use fireworks in the city. The fire chief is responsible for reviewing and approving permits for fireworks displays.
Fireworks are considered to be a banned explosive in Springfield. Applications for permits for special events are allowed, however.
The St. Louis fire marshall can approve public displays of fireworks from people over the age of 17. Otherwise, the sale, use, and explosion — among other things — of fireworks is prohibited within city limits.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in March 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City. Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S. and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.