Beachwood, Brick, and other towns around the state are issuing warnings to residents about fireworks as we approach Independence Day. Fireworks, even as small as sparklers, were illegal in New Jersey for a long time, up until 2017. That year, new rules were passed that allowed "ground based sparkling devices and novelties" but still banned "aerial" fireworks.

As we shared some of these stories (and others related to fireworks) on Facebook, I was stunned at how many people didn't understand that the fireworks packages you bought at Walmart or Target or ShopRite or literally any other store were obviously legal. I saw enough comments along the lines of "but they sell them in 7-Eleven!" that I guess there is still some confusion, but a business like Target is going to be well-aware of the regulations of the state each store is in.

NJ breaks down legal fireworks into a few categories:

De-Regulated Novelties

  • Sparklers
    • Morning glories
    • Wire stick sparklers
  • Smoke Devices
    • Smoke balls
    • Smoke cones
    • Smoke candles
  • Novelties
    • Snappers/pop drops
    • Snakes
    • Party poppers

Permitted "Non-Aerial" Sparkling Devices

  • Ground Sparkling Devices
    • Ball & Disk
    • Cylindrical
  • Sparkling Wheel Devices
  • Ground Based Sparklers (up to 500 grams)
    • Cylindrical
    • Square
    • Cone
    • California Rocket Shaped Fountain

Got all that? Now, here's what is NOT legal:

Aerial Consumer Fireworks

  • Bottle rockets / Sky rockets
  • Firecrackers
  • Roman candles
  • Reloadable shell devices
  • Aerials
  • Single tube device with report

So, basically anything that stays on the ground, or just shoots out smoke or sparks is fine (unless it's a Roman candle). Anything that shoots off the ground or explodes, not fine.

My coworker broke it down even further, getting the actual wording from the law:

LEGAL:

  • A wood stick or wire sparkler of not more than 100 grams of pyrotechnic mixture per item;
  • A hand held or ground based sparkling device which is non-explosive and non-aerial, which may produce a crackling or whistling effect, and contain 75 grams or less of pyrotechnic composition per tube or a total of 500 grams or less for multiple tubes; and
  • Snakes and glow worms, smoke devices, and trick noisemakers, which include party poppers, snappers, and drop pops, each consisting of 25/100 grains or less of explosive mixture.

ILLEGAL:

  • All consumer fireworks not specifically permitted including torpedoes, firecrackers, skyrockets, aerial devices and fireworks containing yellow or white phosphorous or mercury.

You got all that too? Here it is in the simplest terms: if you can buy it in a store in New Jersey, you're fine. If you have to go to Pennsylvania or Delaware or anywhere else, you can get busted.

Be safe, be respectful of your neighbors, and enjoy your holiday!