Where fireworks are permitted and prohibited in DC area

WASHINGTON — As Independence Day nears, it’s not uncommon to see a firework stands pop up around the D.C. area, but fire officials remind residents about the dangers of putting on your own display — and where you are breaking the law by doing it.

Prince George’s County, for instance, has banned all fireworks shows not done by professionals.

“Anything that a consumer can purchase is illegal,” according to Mark Brady, spokesman for Prince George’s County Fire and EMS.

Brady said they have seen severe injuries from the use of fireworks, and as a preventive measure, all fireworks both big and small are against the law.

“If you see something in a neighboring jurisdiction, and it’s small, and you think it’s going to be safe to use, it’s not. It’s illegal,” he said.

Brady said fireworks exploding early, or firing in an unexpected direction, have led to hand and eye injuries, as well as severe burns to people near them. Even sparklers can really harm adults or children who use them because they can reach very high temperatures.

“What you’re doing is you’re placing a metal rod in the hands of your child that can be up to 800 degrees,” Brady said.

Not all areas have as strict of restrictions when it comes to fireworks, but most have banned at least some forms of fireworks.

D.C.

  • Prohibited: Firecrackers of any kind, any firework that explodes — such as cherry bombs, salutes and Roman candles — and sparklers longer than 20 inches. See the full list on the Metro Police Department site here.
  • Permitted: Sparklers less than 20 inches, torches, cones, box fires and fountains.

Maryland

Any firework that explodes or launches a projectile in the air or moves on the ground is illegal in Maryland, including firecrackers, cherry bombs, black cats and M-80s.

  • Anne Arundel County: Snappers, sparklers and ground-based sparkling devices that are non-aerial nonexplosive are permitted.
  • Calvert County: Sparklers and ground-based sparkling devices that are non-aerial nonexplosive are permitted.
  • Charles County: Hand-held sparklers and ignitable snakes are permitted.
  • Frederick County: Gold-label sparklers, novelty items and ground-based sparklers are permitted.
  • Howard County: Handheld sparklers, snakes, snaps and pops, and party poppers are permitted.
  • Montgomery County: All fireworks, including sparklers, are prohibited. Violators face a possible $500 fine.
  • Prince George’s County: All consumer fireworks, including sparklers, are prohibited.

Virginia 

Explosive fireworks and fireworks that launch aerial projectiles are illegal in Virginia. Illegal devices include firecrackers, cherry bombs and bottle rockets.

  • City of Alexandria: All fireworks, including sparklers, are illegal. The city warns of fines of up to $2,500 and up to 12 months in prison for those who set off illegal fireworks in the city.
  • Arlington County: Sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents, pinwheels — also known as whirligigs — or spinning jennies are permitted.
  • Fairfax County: Sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents, pinwheels — also known as whirligigs — or spinning jennies are permitted.
  • City of Falls Church: All fireworks, including sparklers, are prohibited.
  • Fauquier County: Sparklers and fireworks that don’t project into the air are permitted.
  • Loudoun County: Sparklers and ground-based fountains on private property are permitted.
  • Manassas: Sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpent and pinwheels are permitted.
  • Manassas Park: Sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpent and pinwheels are permitted.
  • Prince William County: The county says it has a zero tolerance for illegal fireworks. Sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents and pinwheels are, however, permitted.
  • Spotsylvania County: Sparklers and fireworks that don’t explode in the air or travel on the ground are permitted.
  • Stafford County: Sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents and pinwheels are permitted.
  • Fredericksburg: Sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents and pinwheels are permitted.

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