Are fireworks legal in Virginia? Depends on where you live and which fireworks you’re using

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Fireworks are offered for sale at Uncle Sam's Fireworks on May 27, 2021, in Hammond, Indiana.

Fireworks are offered for sale at Uncle Sam’s Fireworks on May 27, 2021, in Hammond, Indiana. Retailers are encouraging customers to shop early as production and shipping delays from China have already created a shortage of fireworks nationwide. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With wacky names like “Party Pig Snappers” and “Tie Dye Surprise,” fireworks are a favorite way to celebrate the Fourth of July. But safety concerns led states to implement regulations against which fireworks people can purchase and use.

In Virginia, the law clearly defines which fireworks certified individuals can work with for fireworks, and the “permissible fireworks” for other people to use.

Only certified operators of fireworks or pyrotechnicians can handle fireworks deemed illegal for public use in Virginia. Those illegal fireworks for public use include firecrackers, skyrockets, torpedoes or any other firework “which explodes, rises into the air or travels laterally, or fires projectiles into the air.

Sparklers, pinwheels, whirligigs, fountains and pharaoh’s serpents are legal, but Virginia’s Fire Prevention Code establishes specific limitations on them as well.

Anyone caught buying, using or in possession of illegal fireworks in Virginia can face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Localities can set their own limits on fireworks, with some banning them entirely and others enforcing strict restrictions.

Ahead of the holiday, 8News has complied a list of how local counties and cities regulate fireworks:

Caroline County

In Caroline County, the rules on fireworks are simple. Those who are granted permits can use them but the public will be restricted to the “permissible fireworks” in Virginia — sparklers, fountains, pharaoh’s serpents, caps for pistols and pinwheels (which are sometimes referred to as whirligigs or spinning jennies).

Members of the public must only use those fireworks on private property and with the property owner’s consent. Anyone who violates the rule can face a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine).

Chesterfield County

Chesterfield County prohibits anyone who isn’t a “licensed and permitted fireworks professional” from using, possessing or selling fireworks. Violators can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine).

Fireworks light up the sky against the backdrop of a full moon during a Fourth of July celebration in Kansas City, Kan., Tuesday, July 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Goochland County

People in Goochland County are allowed to handle and buy legal fireworks: sparklers, fountains, pharaoh’s serpents, caps for pistols and pinwheels (which are sometimes referred to as whirligigs or spinning jennies).

Those looking to use these products must ignite or explode them on private property and with the owner’s consent. Anyone who violates the law can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine).

Hanover County

Hanover County permits the use and sale of legal fireworks: sparklers, fountains, pharaoh’s serpents, caps for pistols and pinwheels (which are sometimes referred to as whirligigs or spinning jennies). They may only be ignited on private property with the authority of the property owner.

Violators can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine).

Henrico County

In Henrico County, anyone found with fireworks in their possession, even sparklers, can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine). The county allows people to have road flares and paper caps with no more than a quarter of a gram of explosive content, but that’s it.

Washington Fireworks
In this July 4, 2019 photo, fireworks go off over the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Powhatan County

Fireworks regulations in Powhatan County allow for the sale and use of the products permitted to the public in Virginia’s Fire Prevention Code: sparklers, fountains, pharaoh’s serpents, caps for pistols and pinwheels (which are sometimes referred to as whirligigs or spinning jennies).

In order for a fireworks display in Powhatan to move forward, an individual or group must be granted a permit by the county first.

City of Richmond

Unless someone has a permit, using fireworks in the City of Richmond is against the law and violators could face a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine).

City of Petersburg

In Petersburg, only people or groups with a permit granted by the city’s fire code official can handle fireworks. Those who violate this rule can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine).

City of Fredericksburg

The City of Fredericksburg allows people to use sparklers, fountains, pharaoh’s serpents, caps for pistols and pinwheels (which are sometimes referred to as whirligigs or spinning jennies) but they may only do so on private property and with the consent of the property owner.

Violators can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine).

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