Regulating Fireworks Sellers

 

Ah, it is that time of year again where half of the Las Vegas Valley 1)approximate estimates based on perceived, albeit inaccurate, volume from previous years blows up as many powerful fireworks as they can while the rest of us hope and pray that there is not any serious damage done to our community2)and/or my poor dog.

Instead of relying on the usual hearsay in understanding what is legal with regard to fireworks sellers, allow me to provide a quick summary of the Nevada law describing what governmental body determines the legality of fireworks sellers where you live, and the important regulations governing fireworks sellers.

 

Who Has the (Fire)power?

The Nevada state legislature writes most of the laws for the communities of the state that are not a part of an incorporated city/town/county. Unsure where you live? Google Maps will help.  Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 473.090 regulates the use of fireworks in these unincorporated communities:

NRS 473.090  Unlawful burning, blasting or use of fireworks, welding torch or other devices in district; permits; exceptions; penalty.

1.  Except as otherwise provided in this section and NRS 527.126, it is unlawful within the boundaries of any fire protection district organized under this chapter for any person, firm, association, corporation or agency to burn, or cause to be burned, any brush, grass, logs or any other inflammable material, or blast with dynamite, powder or other explosive, or set off fireworks, or operate a welding torch, tarpot3)a pot for carrying tar, for those of us not living in the 19th century or any other device that may cause a fire in forest, grass or brush, either on the land of the person, firm, association, corporation or agency or on the land of another, or on public land, unless such burning or act is done under a written permit from the State Forester Firewarden or the State Forester Firewarden’s duly authorized agent and in strict accordance with the terms of the permit.

5.  The provisions of this section apply only to such portions of the fire protection district as are outside incorporated cities and towns.

6.  Any person, firm, association, corporation or agency violating any of the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.

 

Bet you did not see that coming.

As you see “any person” may not “set off fireworks” in unincorporated areas of the state unless there is written permission from the state Firewarden.

Subsection 1 provides an exception as stated in NRS 527.126, which address  the terms that a “controlled fire” may set ablaze 4)The text is as follows, note the requirement for “direct supervision”: NRS 527.126  Requirements to conduct fire; governmental immunity1. The authority may authorize an agency of this state or any political subdivision of this state to commence a controlled fire. 2. A controlled fire must be conducted: (a) Pursuant to a written plan which has been submitted to and authorized by the authority; and (b) Under the direct supervision of at least one person who is qualified to oversee such fires and who remains on-site for the duration of the fire. 3. A controlled fire which is commenced pursuant to this section and which complies with laws relating to air pollution shall be deemed in the best interest of the public and not to constitute a public or private nuisance. 4. The State of Nevada, an agency of this state or any political subdivision or local government of this state, or any officer or employee thereof, is not liable for any damage or injury to property or persons, including death, which is caused by a controlled fire that is authorized pursuant to this section, unless the fire was conducted in a grossly negligent manner.

 

But what about for the majority us who live in municipalities? Chapter 244 of the NRS regulates those fireworks sellers:

NRS 244.367  Fireworks: Regulation and control.

1.  The board of county commissioners shall have power and jurisdiction in their respective counties to pass ordinances prohibiting, restricting, suppressing or otherwise regulating the sale, use, storage and possession of fireworks, and providing penalties for the violation thereof.

2.  An ordinance passed pursuant to subsection 1 must provide that any license or permit that may be required for the sale of fireworks must be issued by the licensing authority for:

(a) The county, if the fireworks are sold within the unincorporated areas of the county; or

(b) A city located within the county, if the fireworks are sold within the jurisdiction of that city.

(Added to NRS by 1957, 231; A 1999, 808)

 

If you recall our previous discussion on the new Nevada gun law, we learned that Nevada is a Dillon’s Rule state whereby the localities only have the authority to legislate when expressly granted permission by the state legislature.

The legislature granted said authority in subsection 1, above. It is fairly intuitive that the need for firework regulation differs from Clark County (which includes the Strip, among other populated areas) relative to the more rural areas of Nevada.

Now that we know which governmental body regulates fireworks sellers, we will look at the Clark County Code to see the pertinent laws.

 

Clark County’s Fireworks Sellers Laws

Before we get to the law, a little more background on local municipality law. Clark County exclusively regulates the areas of the Las Vegas Valley that are unincorporated5)these include the Paradise [the Strip] and Winchester townships [just east of the strip].

Henderson, Las Vegas, and North Las Vegas, as incorporated municipalities, set their own codes in reference to fireworks.

Lucky for us, the municipal laws are fairly uniform6)in practice less than form, as you will see in part II of our discussion so we will examine the Clark County Code (CCC) regulating the sale of consumer fireworks.  Section 5609 of the CCC regulates consumer fireworks.  I excerpted the pertinent parts:

 

5609.1.2 Seizure of fireworks. It shall be unlawful to possess, use, explode, offer, display for sale, hold or store any and all fireworks in violation of this section. Upon finding unlawful fireworks, the fire chief, building official, or police chief or their representative shall seize, take, remove or cause to be removed such unlawful fireworks and destroy said unlawful fireworks at the expense of the owner.

5609.1.3 Penalty for violation. Any person operating or maintaining any occupancy, premises or vehicle subject to this regulation who shall permit any hazard to exist on premises under his control or who shall fail to take immediate action to abate a hazard when ordered or notified to do so by the building official or his duly authorized representative shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars and/or imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or any combination of such fine and imprisonment. Every day of such violation shall constitute a separate offense.

5609.3.1 Labels. All fireworks for consumer sales shall bear the California State Fire Marshal’s Safe and Sane seal7)Can something be safe and not sane?. Each item or case of small items or item box shall bear the seal.

5609.3.2 Packaging. Retailers shall display and sell consumer fireworks in their original packages only.

5609.6.1 Operations: Fireworks stands shall be operated from June 28 to July 4 of every calendar year.

5609.6.2 Certificate of Insurance: The permittee shall furnish a certificate of insurance for hazard coverage of up to $1,000,000 or greater as specified by the Fire Prevention Bureau.

5609.6.3 Personnel: Fireworks stands shall be operated by at least one adult, 18 years or older, and not be occupied by anyone under the age of 14.

5609.6.5 Fire safety features. Each fireworks stand shall have the following fire safety features;

     1.  A fully-charged mounted fire extinguisher rated at least 2A 10BC. The fire extinguisher shall be tagged by a contractor licensed by the State Fire Marshal.

     2.  “No Smoking” signs with 3-inch tall letters posted on all four sides of the stand as required by 5609.2.3.  (Underlining added)

 

Wow! I do not know about you, but given how shabby some8)not all..specifically yours, the reader’s. I think you have a lovely stand. of the fireworks stands look, I was under the impression that regulations governing these sellers was haphazard at best.  I could not have been more wrong.

The county has done a nice, quite thorough job of protecting her citizens from business that is about as transient as it gets.

So what are the takeaways from the CCC above? Well, if you possess illegal fireworks9)which will be defined in part II, even if purchased legally in Moapa or Nye County, law enforcement will take them away10)if you were to purchase a recreational substance in Colorado/Washington/Alaska and bring it to Nevada, the same principle would apply. There exists the possibility of jail time and/or a fine for possession as well.

Also, fireworks sellers only have a seven-day window to sell beginning 28 June, must have at least one adult working at all times, must have insurance against fire damage, and a fire extinguisher.

Lastly, selling fireworks that are altered (as in not in the original packaging from the manufacturer) is expressly prohibited.

But what kind of fireworks are you permitted to blow up come 4 July?? You will have to stay tuned for Part II of our discussion on fireworks; it promises to be explosive.11)sorry

Read the Clark County fireworks sellers regulations here

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. approximate estimates based on perceived, albeit inaccurate, volume from previous years
2. and/or my poor dog
3. a pot for carrying tar, for those of us not living in the 19th century
4. The text is as follows, note the requirement for “direct supervision”: NRS 527.126  Requirements to conduct fire; governmental immunity1. The authority may authorize an agency of this state or any political subdivision of this state to commence a controlled fire. 2. A controlled fire must be conducted: (a) Pursuant to a written plan which has been submitted to and authorized by the authority; and (b) Under the direct supervision of at least one person who is qualified to oversee such fires and who remains on-site for the duration of the fire. 3. A controlled fire which is commenced pursuant to this section and which complies with laws relating to air pollution shall be deemed in the best interest of the public and not to constitute a public or private nuisance. 4. The State of Nevada, an agency of this state or any political subdivision or local government of this state, or any officer or employee thereof, is not liable for any damage or injury to property or persons, including death, which is caused by a controlled fire that is authorized pursuant to this section, unless the fire was conducted in a grossly negligent manner.
5. these include the Paradise [the Strip] and Winchester townships [just east of the strip]
6. in practice less than form, as you will see in part II of our discussion
7. Can something be safe and not sane?
8. not all..specifically yours, the reader’s. I think you have a lovely stand.
9. which will be defined in part II
10. if you were to purchase a recreational substance in Colorado/Washington/Alaska and bring it to Nevada, the same principle would apply
11. sorry
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