Make sure vendors have required expolsives license and certificate

SPRINGFIELD—Individuals and organizations sponsoring fireworks displays in Illinois should make sure their fireworks vendor has the required state license and certificate regulating the storage and use of display fireworks, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold said.

“Fireworks shows are a fantastic part of the Independence Day holiday, and we want to make sure the displays are safe for all involved,” Brunsvold said.

The IDNR Office of Mines and Minerals Mine Safety and Training Division, in administering the Illinois Explosives Act, works with local governments, businesses, individuals, civic groups and others hosting fireworks displays to make sure fireworks vendors abide by the law and make safety their first priority.

Illinois law requires that anyone who purchases, possesses, uses, transfers or disposes of explosives, including display fireworks, must be licensed by the IDNR. Individuals or companies storing display fireworks must have an explosives magazine, storage facility or container that is certified by the IDNR Mine Safety and Training Division. A total of 403 entities have been licensed or certified this year for display fireworks.

State licensing requirements apply to display fireworks, not consumer or personal fireworks such as Roman candles, bottle rockets or firecrackers. The display fireworks seen in commercial displays are usually aerial shells containing more than two grains (.004572 of one ounce) of explosive material composition.

“In addition to making sure their fireworks vendor has the proper state license and certificates, hosts or sponsors of fireworks shows should also check with their county or municipal government regarding their ordinances and regulations governing fireworks displays,” Director Brunsvold said.

Display fireworks and consumer fireworks are classified as hazardous materials for transportation purposes. Fireworks classified as explosives under Illinois Department of Transportation regulations must be handled and transported according to those requirements. Shippers and carriers of hazardous materials must be trained and must comply with proper marking, labeling, placarding and packaging standards. They must also carry proper documents describing the fireworks being transported and what to do in case of emergency.

In addition, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives requires that anyone transporting or receiving display fireworks in either interstate or intrastate commerce obtain a permit from the bureau.

Severe penalties may be imposed for violations of the Illinois Explosives Act. Anyone possessing, using, transferring or purchasing display fireworks without a valid Illinois license or storage certificate may be prosecuted. A violation of the Illinois Explosives Act is a Class 3 felony, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 criminal fine. In addition, the IDNR can assess administrative fines up to $5,000 for violations involving display fireworks and other explosives.

For more information on the Illinois Explosives Act and its provisions regarding display fireworks contact the IDNR Office of Mines and Minerals Mine Safety and Training Division at 217/782-9976.

Media interviews about the legal requirements surrounding fireworks displays in Illinois are available. To arrange an interview, call Mike Falter at 217/782-9976 or Gayle Simpson at 217-558-1543 or 217/725-9083.

From the June 29-July 5, 2005, issue

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