Yes It Is Legal to Sell Fireworks – But You Need Permits!

Photo by PoPville flickr user Suse_dc

Every year people ask about the legality of fireworks in DC so I just wanted to share a note from DCRA:

As the July 4th holiday approaches get all the required permits, licenses, and inspections for you to legally set up a fireworks stand and sell fireworks. Use or the possession of illegal fireworks in the District of Columbia could face fines and penalties of up to $2,000 and/or arrest for further prosecution.

Permits, certificate of occupancy, FEMS application, and Basic business license are required to legally operate a fireworks sales stand in the District of Columbia.

The deadline for submitting applications to DCRA is June 20, 2011

31 Comment

  • PoP and Readers,

    I am new to the Petworth area and was wondering if there are any good places to see fireworks in my new hood. I used to live by the convention center and could see the mall fireworks from my roof, but now it seems like a hassle to get down there.

    Also, what is everyone’s favorite part of the 4th of July? If you answer anything other than “The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest” you are wrong.

    • bfinpetworth

      Every street corner. Seriously, last year it was like Baghdad shock and awe in the neighborhood. Out of control. One of my dogs nearly had a nervous breakdown and we had to sleep in the basement with the TV on to try to hide the noise. I let the dogs out at 6 am the next morning and there were still fireworks going off.

      We are getting out of town this holiday – my dog can’t take it!

      • bfinpetworth

        On the other hand, the neighborhood REALLY celebrates! We went down to a friends rooftop in Adams Morgan earlier in the evening to watch the official fireworks and the crowd on that roof was so laid back they didn’t even ooh and aaah. Then we drive back into Petworth and it is like the millenium new year and 4th of July all in one. People were having a great time, but my middle class sensibilities were stunned by the lack of safety and control over the situation.

        • I once saw a child that could not have been older than 4(?) standing on his toes to hand cash to a guy at a fireworks stand. He couldn’t even see the top of the counter. And he was alone. It’s bananas around here.

    • There’s a great view from Meridian Hill Park, and the coming and going from Petworth isn’t too bad.

      My favorite part of the 4th is when it’s over. It’s the holiday I hate the most and I know our neighborhood is going to be INSANE with people actin like fools.

    • If you want to see the big mall display, the view from Cardozo HS is really good. Or, as mentioned below, you can just stand on Georgia Ave and watch the insanity. It really does get pretty crazy, although it’s not as bad (or good?) as NYE in Amsterdam.

  • I usually got to Rockville MD to watch fireworks, parking is much less of a hassle there even though I live in DC.

    The best places to watch them in DC are on rooftops, outside of the chaos and traffic, last year I saw fireworks on the mall, traffic, and walking in the extreme sun/heat nearly killed me, and I could not even catch a cab because I was black at the time.

  • I would be interested in an explanation of exactly what fireworks are legal in DC. Since I moved to Petworth I have found no need to go to the Mall because the impromptu shows on my block rival the fireworks you see on the Mall in both volume and light in the sky. I find it hard to believe that most of the huge fireworks are legal in DC.

    • What is this obsession with “legal”. If they are available, they will be used.

    • Firecrackers and anything that shoots/flies are illegal. so, pretty much everything except for sparklers. The fireworks legislation is about as effective as the gun legislation.

    • For the big neighborhood displays the fireworks are black market (resold in DC illegally) or driven in from out of town. *Everybody* in this town turns a blind eye in the weeks leading up to the 4th. That being said, we chatted up the neighbors who put on the biggest show on our street last year. They drive down to Carolina to fill up; it’s significantly cheaper apparently, and you can get basically everything including those suitcase sized multi-launchers that rival some professional equipment. I think he said they spent over $8000 last year (not a typo: eight thousand). Find some friends with higher ground in CH, Petworth, Ledroit, Eckington, etc and enjoy the hours and hours of free shows!

      • You can also drive over to West Virginia and stock up on damn near anything. Bottle rockets, roman candles, firecrackers, anything.

  • when are the fireworks on the national mall this year? WIth the 4th being a Monday, do they have fireworks on the 3rd?

  • The surest sign that the DCFD and DCRA are crooks is the fireworks stand 50 feet from the Exxon gas pumps on NY Ave and Bladensburg Road.

    In no way, shape or form is that a good idea or safe.

  • Remember the house/roof deck that burned last year from the fireworks? Whatever happened to the owner? Did insurance cover the blaze?

    • HA! They were our neighbors. They caused 18,000 damage to our building alone, not counting the other two they set on fire. Their building was rented and it was the renters that started the fire. The house owner had it rebuilt and it was just rented out recently to new renters. All of our insurance companies sued their insurance company because of the insanity of fireworks on a roof deck, 40+ people on a roof deck and a gas grill on a roof deck that exploded and spread the fire more quickly. You just can’t trust gentrifiers and alcohol! : )

      • Wow. Thats insane. I saw them setting off fireworks that night, but I live across the street and somehow i missed the fire. I woke up to your row charred badly. Glad that everyone was made whole. Were the renters sued as well? Were they arrested or anything? It seems like they could face pretty stiff penalties.

  • “Also, what is everyone’s favorite part of the 4th of July?”

    Drinking and having the day off.

    I used to go to the Roots Music concert at the monument, but they stopped doing that years ago. I would always leave before the fireworks started and avoid the crowds.

    • WRONG! Even drinking RootsBeer Music concerts doesn’t compare to the heroics of the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

      The hyperbole alone is worth the hour of TV watching.

      • Have Junior Brown, John Jackson, Carl Perkins, Gatemouth Brown and the Johnson Mountain Boys played the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest? I seriously doubt it! 🙂

  • claire

    Drove through the corner of West Virginia coming back from Pittsburgh a couple weeks ago and stocked up on fireworks – so prepared this year! Last year was actually the first time I’ve set off any fireworks (even the silly little sparklers).

  • I’m curious to see some stats from enforcement of the fireworks “ban.”

    How many stands were audited, how many were within compliance, how many had XYZ issues.

    I already know the answer, of course. But I’d really like to see MPD/DCFD defend their total lack of enforcement on this issue.

  • Now here’s the stumper: is it legal for me to manufacture fireworks in DC?

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