Fireworks Fun, Facts & The Law

Fireworks Fun, Facts & The Law

By Brandon Allen and Mari Jasa of McDonald, Levy and Taylor, PLLC

Independence Day is an exciting and patriotic time of year! As we all know, fireworks are an important part of the tradition, and one doesn’t have to travel far in any direction to watch the show on July 4th. While fireworks are fun to set up and beautiful to watch, they can be dangerous if not used properly. As an example, sparklers can burn up to 2,000 degrees! Because of these dangers, there are several restrictions regarding where you can purchase and use fireworks in Tennessee. Check out the information below that will help you make the best of this year’s Fourth of July:

Fireworks Statistics from 2019 Fireworks Annual Report by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Of the 7,300 estimated fireworks-related injuries sustained, 66 percent were to males and 34 percent were to females in 2019.
  • The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (an estimated 30 percent); legs (an estimated 23 percent); eyes (an estimated 15 percent); head, face, and ears (an estimated 15 percent); and arms (an estimated 10 percent).
  • There were an estimated 900 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers and 400 with bottle rockets.
  • USCPSC staff has reports of 126 fireworks-related deaths between 2004 and 2019, for an average of 7.9 deaths per year.
  • Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Alabama, and South Carolina spent between $51.1 Million to $18.9 Million on fireworks in 2020.
Fireworks Rules in Tennessee Cities & Counties
  • Blount: legal to sell and use before 11 P.M, must comply with noise ordinance
  • Cities of Alcoa and Townsend: Illegal to sell and shoot fireworks except within the times between 11:00 am and 11:00 pm
  • City of Anderson: Illegal to sell and shoot fireworks unless for a public display with a permit from City Council
  • Knox County: Illegal to sell and shoot without permit
  • Lenoir City: Legal to sell and shoot fireworks from June 20 – July 5
  • Loudon County: Legal to sell and shoot fireworks on private property
  • Morristown- Illegal to sell and shoot fireworks within city limits
  • Oak Ridge: Illegal to sell and shoot fireworks
  • Sevier County: Legal to sell and shoot fireworks
  • Sevierville/ Gatlinburg/ Pigeon Forge: Illegal to sell and shoot fireworks in city limits
Did you know?

A person can commit and be charged with Arson which is when anyone who knowingly damages any structure by means of a fire or explosion without the consent of the person who owns the property or any person who has an interest in that structure. That person can also be charged if they have the intent to destroy or damage the property for any illegal reason such as collecting insurance. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-301.

Class C felony: not less than three (3) years nor more than fifteen (15) years. In addition, the jury may assess a fine not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000), unless otherwise provided by statute. Code. Ann. §40-35-111.

A person can be charged with aggravated arson which is when one or more people are present when the arson is being committed and the action results in a person suffering serious bodily injury as a result of the fire or explosion.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-302.

Class A felony: not less than fifteen (15) nor more than sixty (60) years. In addition, the jury may assess a fine not to exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), unless otherwise provided by statute. Code. Ann. §40-35-111.

Lastly, a person can be charged with reckless burning when they recklessly start a fire on someone else’s property or start a fire on their own land and then let it recklessly escape and burn onto someone else’s land. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-304.

Class A felony: not less than fifteen (15) nor more than sixty (60) years. In addition, the jury may assess a fine not to exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), unless otherwise provided by statute. Code. Ann. §40-35-111.

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