The Mortgage Moment Blog: Fireworks are legal in Arizona? - But are they?

Fireworks are legal in Arizona? - But are they?

 fireworks by mark taylor

With 209,000 acres of charred Arizona landscape and still burning as of this morning I thought it appropriate to talk about Firework sales in Arizona and where we can set them off and where we can't. What is or isn't legal to help remedy all the confusion - now that still begs the question with 209,000 acres burnt beyond recognition!  Should we set off anything flammable - you be the judge.

So what is all the fuss about?

Fireworks haven't been legal in Arizona for more than 50 years -- until December 1 2010. For the first time in decades, the sale of some fireworks will be allowed.

The controversial law was passed by the legislature earlier this year after lobbying from the fireworks industry. Firefighters warned about the potential danger, but it passed anyway.

Phantom Fireworks is one of the companies that has set up shop.

Phantom Fireworks june 17th 6am

Image taken 6/17/11 6:00am

A Phantom spokesperson said: "I think the governor saw that it could be a revenue source because we will be paying a lot of sales tax and a lot of fees and permits for the cities... money drives everything."

He was also asked about the fire dangers, but the company says Arizonans shouldn't be worried -- because the fireworks that are now legal are what the company calls "safe and sane" fireworks -- like spinners, fountains, sparklers, and other little poppers.

Fireworks that shoot up in the air or explode are not legal.

So what can you buy?

Fireworks you can and cannot buy in Arizona by Mark Taylor


Bottle Rockets:

With Local Approval


Sky Rockets:

With Local Approval


Roman Candles:

With Local Approval



With Local Approval



Legally Allowed


Smoke and Punk:

Legally Allowed



Legally Allowed



With Local Approval



Legally Allowed


Crackle and Strobe:

Legally Allowed



With Local Approval


Wheels and Spinners:

Legally Allowed


Sky Flyers:

With Local Approval


Display Shells:

With Local Approval


Aerial Items (Cakes):

With Local Approval

So now that I know what I can buy - where can I let them off?

Everyone reading this must understand even though you can buy fireworks in your town you may not be able to light up in your CITY!

Firefighters did issue this comment last year to KNIX

What Arizona is doing is allowing cities like Tucson to ban the use of fireworks within city limits.  Tucsonans can buy the state-approved fireworks within city limits, but not use them, except for the smaller "novelty" fireworks such as handheld sparklers.  

Counties have less ability to enact fireworks restrictions, although county officials do have the right to enact temporary bans when there is a high fire danger. (JUST CURIUOS WHEN IS AZ NOT?!)

Firefighters want to remind everyone to be extra cautious when dealing with fireworks.

"Even after you saw it burn out, there's always that possibility that it's not completely burned out and it could cause injury just by having someone run up and touch it, thinking it's done," said a local firefighter.

Firefighters suggest anyone confused about the usage of fireworks and the products themselves contact their local city officials to find out what is being banned in that city.

Anyone found possessing illegal fireworks or illegally using fireworks within city limits could face up to $1,000 in fines. 

But Mark! You still havent answered my question where are these Firewirks banned?

Scottsdale, Tempe, Carefree, Cave Creek, Avondale, Goodyear, Tolleson, Chandler, Fountain Hills, El Mirage, Prescott, Kingman and Tucson.  Please check with your city or town to verify its position on personal use of legal fireworks.

And here is why:

Last year, Governor Brewer signed a law allowing 16 year olds to purchase fireworks legally anywhere in our bone-dry desert state.  Almost immediately, citing fire hazards and public safety concerns, nearly every municipality in Maricopa County and many around the state began banning the use of fireworks in their jurisdictions.  This year, citing the loss of sales tax revenues, the legislature passed another bill which would have banned cities from banning fireworks.  Wisely, Governor Brewer vetoed that bill, reaffirming her belief that local authorities have to right to restrict fireworks.  

There is bad news for our teens in this story, because now Arizona kids over 16 can legally purchase arsenals of poppin' hot fun but can't set off their loot without legal repercussion in most cities in the state.   The last thing our well intentioned kids need is another way to come in contact with the juvenile justice system.

There are two problems hereFirst, most kids and parents don't know that fireworks bans exist, yet the simple ignition of a firework in a banned area can create a punishable offense when kids are caught and cited.  Under the new state law, cities, counties and towns can create their own fireworks ordinances and assign their own consequences.  The city of Phoenix recently banned the use of fireworks within its city limits making it a Class 1 Misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $2500 and six months in jail.  That's pretty serious -- the kind offense that, like every other no matter how minor, can have long term implications for a juvenile.  Other Arizona cities have also banned fireworks within their city limits, including Scottsdale, Tempe, Carefree, Cave Creek, Avondale, Goodyear, Tolleson, Chandler, Fountain Hills, El Mirage, Prescott, Kingman and Tucson.  Please check with your city or town to verify its position on personal use of legal fireworks.

The second problem is the unintended consequence of setting off the firework.  Speaking before the Scottsdale City Council in December to denounce the use of fireworks, Fire Marshall Jim Ford reminded members that a fire started in June by boys shooting off fireworks like the ones that are now legal, caused $130,000 in damages to two houses in south Scottsdale.  Arson to an occupied structure (A.R.S. §13-1704) in Arizona is a Class 2 Felony carrying a presumptive penalty of five years in prison.  As we all know, even grass fires in our state can have horrible, unforeseen consequences, legal and otherwise. And if the firework is set off too closely to a railroad track, a bridge, a telecommunication pole, a highway or other essential infrastructure, federal charges can apply.

 Fire as it approaches the town of Greer Arizona by Mark Taylor

So my comment to all the readers is: if you feel the need to blow something up - go to your local gun club and shoot something, grab your kids XBOX or PS3 and blow up a zombie or have your kids teach you Call of Duty - I assure you it will be just as satisfying and less risk of fine, imprisonment, injury and setting off a 200,000 plus acre fire!

Thanks for reading my article Fireworks are legal in Arizona? - But are they? Feel free to pass it on to anyone you thnk it might help.

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Comment balloon 5 commentsMark Taylor Mortgages • June 18 2011 10:28AM


Mark - I am ASTOUNDED that they legalized fireworks here in AZ...*DUMB*!  Those tents are popping up everywhere - which has to mean fireworks have big profit margins.  Cheaply made explosives...?  THAT'S what we need more of....*sigh*

Posted by Sharon Lord, New Home Advisor (Maracay Homes) about 9 years ago

well said!

Posted by Mark Taylor Mortgages, 602-361-0707 #MarkTaylor #Awesomerates NMLS#207897 (and for 1st Time Buyers, Move Up Buyers & Investors ) about 9 years ago
Great and timely information Mark. Thanks for reposting.
Posted by Peggy Murrietta about 9 years ago

Legal fireworks are safe when used properly. This country is banning more and more and more. Its getting so nothing can ever be done. We safely set off fireworks as kids under the watchful eyes of our parents with a hose and a bucket close by. Never any issues. NOW my kids dont have that chance because of over reaction.

If you want to protect people, then ban cars. Thats the biggest danger in your life. And LOTS of people misuse them DAILY. Tens of thousands of people die from auto accidents. But we can't do that because that would be unreasonable. So lets ban everthing else and 'feel" like we've accomplished something. Aren't they banning french fries in California? (something like that)

Lets ban BBQs. Lets ban cigarettes and cigars. Lets ban firplaces. Ban camping, (because we know about campers and camp fires) The shooting range? But you might use those firearms elsewhere and unwisely. They use explosive cartridges. Ban those too. Ban sterno cans and white gas and propane and magnesium firestarters and duraflame logs. How about the little Smokey Joe BBQs they sell at Walgreens? Lets just ban everything, live in a bubble and live life on XBOX and facebook. That's real living anyway.



Posted by Teed Tabor about 8 years ago

Always promote safety with fireworks. Guys always like things that go "Bang!" but it's not worth getting injured.

Posted by Dave Halpern, Louisville Short Sale Expert (Keller Williams Realty Louisville East (502) 664-7827) about 3 years ago