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How to be sure you're buying legal fireworks this Fourth of July

Posted at 1:27 PM, Jul 01, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — July promises to start with a bang. No, really!

With Independence Day comes fireworks and some of us will have the urge to shoot off bottle rockets and roman candles in honor of our nation's independence.

But before you light that firecracker, there are rules you must abide by if you don't want to get in trouble with the law.

"We can sell anything that stays on the ground and novelties like your snaps and tanks," Valerie Taylor, a vendor for Phantom Fireworks, said.

She said you can't get, "anything that goes in the air and anything that goes boom."

So here's the deal: the law concerning fireworks or "Sparkling Devices" changed in 2018.

In the past, New York banned the sale of Sparkling Devices, and counties would have to opt in, in order to sell the items. In 2018, the law changed and counties now have to opt out, meaning the devices are legal unless action is specifically taken to ban them.

New York defines sparklers as a "ground based, spiked, or handheld devices that produce showers of sparks and/or colored flame, audible crackling, whistling and smoke. These devices do not rise into the air, do not explode or produce a report."

In other words, fireworks that fly or explode are illegal.

Bill Weimer, the Vice President of Phantom Fireworks, said the prices of those fireworks you can legally buy may increase depending on tariffs placed on China.

"The trade war would have a deletrious effect on the firework prices. We would increase the prices. We could only absorb a small amount of them," Weimer said.

There will be no uptick in price this year. Weimer said they have already bought all of their 2019 inventory.

In the future, those prices can change. If the tariffs are successfully placed, prices will increase at least 20%, meaning $5 fireworks will become $6 and $100 fireworks will become $120.

99.8% of fireworks are made in China. "The problem with putting a tariff on fireworks is that there are no U.S. manufacturers to compete. The tariff will not achieve the desired effect of what a classic tariff would achieve," Weimer said. "We want the United States to get a good trade deal with China. That only benefits all of us. But it just happens that this product does not meet the classic definition of what a tariff would accomplish."

You can find an explanation of what is and isn't legal here. To be sure you're buying legal fireworks, you can check for a registered vendor on this list.

If you'd rather play it safe and leave the fireworks to the experts, here's a list of WNY displays.