Since 2019 fireworks have been allowed in the city, however unless users obtain a permit, they are only supposed to set off certain kinds of the display explosives, following specific guidelines.
The relaxation of fireworks regulations is not only regional. There has been a mass liberalization of fireworks laws around the country for individual consumers in recent years.
William Weimer, VP of national retailer Phantom Fireworks, told Slate sales are up 15% this year, and American Pyrotechnics Association executive director Julie Heckman said her members are anticipating a banner year across the board. Billboards advertising fireworks distributors have lined I-95, and a few Philadelphians have reported getting advertising mailers.
You can read: Social Distancing Ambassadors in Philadelphia Parks
In spite of this fireworks fever, from May 29 to June 21, the Philadelphia Police Department says it has gotten 947 emergency calls complaining about a “boom” or “explosive” sound.
And Philadelphia is not a lonely case. Boston clocked 1,445 complaints in the first week of June compared to just 22 that week in 2019, and NYC authorities have received 230x more fireworks-related complaints than previous years.
2020 marks the first year people in Philly are legally allowed to set off fireworks during the weeks leading up to Independence Day. Philadelphians are able to legally set off:
- Ground-based fireworks
- Roman candles
- Bottle rockets
- Other Class C fireworks, also known as “consumer grade”
- NOT fireworks with more than 50 milligrams of explosive materials
- NOT “display” fireworks, which contain professional-grade pyrotechnics
Additionally these are rules that govern the at-home firecracker usage:
- You have to be at least 18 years old.
- You cannot set off fireworks within 150 feet of an occupied structure — including houses or commercial buildings that are in use.
- You cannot light a fuse under any trees or power lines.
- And must have permission (in writing) from whoever owns the land. So unless you get the green light from Parks & Rec, that crosses off most of the public space that would be big enough to meet the first rule.