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Frequently Asked Questions

The U.S. Department of Transportation does not classify the following items listed as common fireworks, and their use is allowed within the City of Austin:

  • Snake, GlowWorms – Pressed pellet of pyrotechnic composition that produces a large, snakelike ash upon burning. The ash expands in length as the pellet burns. These devices may not contain mercuric thiocyanate.
  • Smoke Device – Tube or sphere containing pyrotechnic composition that, upon ignition, produces white or colored smoke as the primary effect.
  • Wire Sparkler – Wire coated with pyrotechnic composition that produces a shower of sparks upon ignition. These items may not contain magnesium and must not exceed 100g of composition per item. Devices containing any chlorate or perchlorate salts may not exceed 5g of composition per item.
  • Trick Noisemaker – Item produces a small report intended to surprise the user. These devices include:
    • Party Popper – Small plastic or paper item containing not more than 16mg of explosive composition that is friction-sensitive. A string protruding from the device is pulled to ignite it, expelling paper streams and producing a small report.
    • Booby Trap – Small tube with string protruding from both ends, similar to a party popper in design. The ends of the string are pulled to ignite the friction-sensitive composition, producing a small report.
    • Snapper – Small, paper-wrapped item containing a minute quantity of explosive composition coated on small bits of sand. When dropped, the device explodes, producing a small report.
    • Trick Match – Kitchen or book match that has been coated with a  small quantity of explosive or pyrotechnic composition. Upon ignition of the match, a small report or a shower of sparks is produced.
    • Cigarette Load – Small wooden peg that has been coated with a small quantity of explosive or pyrotechnic composition. Upon ignition of the match, a small report or a shower of sparks is produced.
    • Auto Burglar Alarm – A tube which contains pyrotechnic composition that produces a loud whistle and/or smoke when ignited. A small quantity of explosive, not exceeding 50mg, also may be used to produce a small report. A squib is used to ignite the device.

**While no permit is required for the devices above, users should follow all of the Manufacturer’s safety, handling, and storage recommendations and these devices should always be used in a safe outdoor location.

The City of Austin has adopted an ordinance forbidding the storage, use, and handling of fireworks within the City of Austin.  The Austin Fire Department has aggressively sought compliance with this ordinance.

The Austin Fire Department’s fireworks abatement campaign has evolved over the years. Initially, it consisted of sending an engine and a truck company to all reported fireworks violations. This response was very burdensome on the emergency response system and the 911 dispatchers -- often resulting in removing emergency response apparatus away from their normal areas. In the late 1990s, AFD decided to change its approach.

A fireworks hotline was established for callers to report non-emergency fireworks violations. AFD inspectors and APD officers were available to be dispatched in teams of two each, in an APD marked unit. These units were dispatched from the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staffed City personnel ranging in job responsibilities from call takers, runners, and dispatchers to a Division Chief. This campaign was conducted from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. on the Fourth of July and in many cases, the days proceeding and following the holiday.

With the advent of the new 311 system, the fireworks abatement campaign has become a more APD-oriented operation. Police department units now are dispatched from the non-emergency line. The call takers no longer are required to staff EOC, and the 911 system no longer is flooded with calls regarding fireworks violations. The Austin Fire Department has a presence on the streets, and the Fire Marshal’s Office still issues citations for violating the fireworks ordinance, and vigorously prosecuted persons responsible for starting fires as a result of fireworks.

A permit along with the following is required in order to promote or execute a commercial or consumer firework display within the City of Austin:

  • A site plan of the grounds where the display is to be held must be submitted and approved by AFD Emergency Prevention.
  • A copy of a pyrotechnic operator license issued by a State Fire Marshal’s Office (Commercial only).
  • A list of the fireworks to be used along with an MSDS for each (Commercial Only). Consumer Displays are restricted to ground devices containing 50mg or less of explosive composition and smoke devices classed as explosive 1.4G, firecrackers and small smoke bombs only.
  • A certificate of insurance must be obtained for a minimum of $1,000,000 bodily injury and $500,000 property damage if the display is aerial in nature. Non-aerial displays must have a certificate of insurance for a minimum of $500,000 bodily injury and $300,000 property damage insurance. The City of Austin must be named as co-insured on the policy.
  • A $200 permit fee and permit application form from the Austin Fire Department is required.
  • A public display permit must be obtained from the State Fire Marshal’s Office. (Commercial only).

All information must be submitted for aerial fireworks at least 21 days prior to scheduled event, and for flame effect, open flame performances, etc., at least 14 days prior to scheduled event, for review and approval. The public display must meet all State of Texas requirements as outlined in Article 5.43-4 Insurance Code and Firework rules. This booklet is available from the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The following expenses are the responsibility of the fireworks contractor or pyrotechnic operator (if required):

  • Apparatus Standby Fee
  • Firewatch Inspector Fee

Actual fee amounts will be determined based on event specifics.

For a fireworks display permit email afdspecialevents@austintexas.gov.

It is illegal to use or sell fireworks within the City of Austin.