Fireworks Part II: What May I Blow up?

**2016 Update** For your information, according to Section 5609.6.1 of the Clark County Code:

“Fireworks stands shall be operated from June 28 to July 4 of every calendar year.”

 

Welcome to Part II of our discussion of fireworks laws in Southern Nevada, in which we clarify what the law is and leave all that hearsay we have been using in the dust.  In Part I, we reviewed the how localities are granted the authority to regulate, and the ordinances passed by Clark County governing sellers.

Now we get to the meat and potatoes: what kind of fireworks are you permitted to blow up this 4 July, and what will happen if you are caught with illegal ones?

 

Fireworks Laws in Unincorporated Clark County/Henderson

Before we continue, you are going to want to know where you live1)do not despair, this is not about to get too existential.  If your mailing address is in “Henderson,” then the inquiry ends there.  But if you have a mailing address in “Las Vegas,” you could live in either the City of Las Vegas or unincorporated Clark County2)the county made a deal with Las Vegas a while back allowing residents/business of the unincorporated townships [Paradise, Winchester for example] to list Las Vegas as their mailing addresses, even though they are not in the city limits.

Generally, if you live north of Sahara, you are in Las Vegas.  If you are south of Sahara, but not in Henderson, you are probably in unincorporated Clark County3)check your address on Google Maps to know for sure; the city limits are not neatly drawn.

Why does it matter where you live? Because the regulations differ depending on municipality.  Luckily, Henderson and Clark County’s regulations are nearly identical.

They are so similar that we will examine the Clark County Code and you can safely assume the regulations apply to Henderson as well4)See Chapter 8.32.10 of the Henderson Code. Note the difference between the Henderson law and Clark County is that the County (literally) numbers the illicit fireworks, while Henderson uses letters.

Clark County Code section 5609 declares what are illegal, dangerous fireworks:

5609.5 Dangerous fireworks. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess, store, to offer for sale, expose for sale, sell at wholesale or retail, or use or explode any dangerous fireworks in the unincorporated towns of Clark County, Nevada. “Dangerous fireworks” include, but are not limited to, the following:

1.  Fireworks that contain prohibited chemicals per NFPA 11245)NRPA 1124 As you can see, the National Fire Protection Association [NFPA] has withdrawn Section 1124 to be updated; subsection 1 has no effect, in actuality;

2.  Firecrackers, salutes and other articles which explode;

3.  Fireworks that fire an aerial display;

4.  Skyrockets and rockets, including all devices which employ any combustible or explosive material and which rise in the air during discharge;

5.  Roman candles, including all devices which discharge balls of fire into the air;

6.  Sparklers more than ten inches in length or one-fourth inch in diameter;

7.  All fireworks designed and intended by the manufacturer to create the element of surprise upon the user. These items include but are not limited to auto foolers, cigarette loads, exploding balls, trick matches;

8.  Fireworks known as devil-on-the-walk, or any other fireworks which explode through means of friction;

9.  Torpedoes6)oh geez of all kinds which explode on impact;

10.  Fireworks kits;

11.  Devices that travel a distance exceeding a 10 feet radius.

12.  Such other fireworks examined and tested by the chief and determined to possess characteristics of design or construction which make such fireworks unsafe for use by any person not specially qualified or trained in the use of fireworks.

Note that this is not an exhaustive list, although sufficiently terrifying.

The County/Henderson will likely consider any fireworks similar in character to those listed above in the class of “dangerous fireworks,” and through subsection 12, will deem them illegal.

 

Las Vegas Tries to Regulate Fireworks Another Way

Instead of defining what are illegal like her sister municipalities above, Las Vegas took a different approach by declaring what are legal:

9.28.060 – Approved fireworks.

Subject to the limitations imposed by Section 9.28.0907)that states fireworks may not be lit on public sidewalks or streets, the sale, use, manufacture, and possession of the following articles of fireworks is approved within the City except that prohibited items may be used for public display purposes as provided by a special permit, and except possession of prohibited items by jobbers, wholesalers, and manufacturers for shipment to other states. All other items not herein approved are prohibited. The following items are approved:

(A) Cylindrical fountains without report (includes handle, spike and base fountain), total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed seventy-five grams each in weight; the inside tube diameter shall not exceed three-fourths inch;

(B) Cone fountains and whistling fountains without report, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed fifty grams each in weight;

(C) Wheels, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed sixty grams in weight, for each driver unit, but there may be any number of drivers on any one wheel; the inside bore of driver tubes shall not be over one-half inch;

(D) Railway fuses without spikes, truck flares, hand ship distress signals and illuminating torches, but excluding those containing magnesium; total pyrotechnic composition of illuminating torches not to exceed one hundred grams each in weight;

(E) Sparklers and dipped sticks, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed one hundred grams each in weight; pyrotechnic composition containing any chlorate or perchlorate shall not exceed five grams;

(F) Colored box, cone fire and smoke pots8)contain yourself, total pyrotechnic composition not to exceed one hundred grams each in weight (does not include magnesium flares or smoke grenades);

(G) Fireworks pieces that are a combination of the above approved items, and which are mounted on one base; total number of items on one base shall not exceed nine;

(H) Nonpoisonous snake9)I thought we were talking about fireworks? and items of similar composition.

(Ord. 1816 § 1 (part), 1976: Ord. 1814 § 1 (part), 1976: prior code § 6-1-16(4))

 

So what is the difference between the County and Las Vegas? Time to get our logic hats on! Although it is possible, in practice, the regulations are the same10)especially since Metro polices Las Vegas and the unincorporated county, on its face, the Las Vegas law is much tougher.

Any fireworks not on the list above are illegal; whereas, with the county, although I do not know enough about fireworks to provide examples, it is very possible that there are more than eight11)A through H different classes of fireworks that would not meet the criterion of “dangerous.”

Which method of regulation is more efficacious? I cannot say for certain, but my instincts say that declaring what is illegal is the better way to go. Just imagine how long and arduous any regulations would be that had to define all legal activity.

On the other hand, at least it is clear in Las Vegas what fireworks are legal.  Note subsection 12 of the County Code 5609.5 includes a catch-all for the county to declare any additional fireworks illegal if need be.  Unfortunately, there is not enough empirical evidence to determine which municipality method is more effective12)not that we could control for all the necessary variables to make said determination anyway.

Stay tuned to find out how a bad decision this 4 July could land you in some serious hot water.  Until then, there are some helpful tips for how to play safe this 4 July on the Clark County Website.

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. do not despair, this is not about to get too existential
2. the county made a deal with Las Vegas a while back allowing residents/business of the unincorporated townships [Paradise, Winchester for example] to list Las Vegas as their mailing addresses, even though they are not in the city limits
3. check your address on Google Maps to know for sure; the city limits are not neatly drawn
4. See Chapter 8.32.10 of the Henderson Code. Note the difference between the Henderson law and Clark County is that the County (literally) numbers the illicit fireworks, while Henderson uses letters
5. NRPA 1124 As you can see, the National Fire Protection Association [NFPA] has withdrawn Section 1124 to be updated; subsection 1 has no effect, in actuality
6. oh geez
7. that states fireworks may not be lit on public sidewalks or streets
8. contain yourself
9. I thought we were talking about fireworks?
10. especially since Metro polices Las Vegas and the unincorporated county
11. A through H
12. not that we could control for all the necessary variables to make said determination anyway
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