Legal vs. Illegal Fireworks

Legal Fireworks

In Rhode Island, only ground and hand-held sparkling devices (“sparklers”) are legal for use by the general public. These devices are groundbased or hand-held devices that produce a shower of white, gold, or colored sparks as their primary pyrotechnic effect. Additional effects may include a colored flame, an audible crackling effect, an audible whistle effect, and smoke. These devices do not rise into the air, do not fire inserts or projectiles into the air, and do not explode or produce a report. (A mild audible crackling-type effect is not considered to be a report.) Ground-based or hand-held devices that produce a cloud of smoke as their sole pyrotechnic effect are also included in this category.

Rhode Island General Law § 11-13-1 states that no one can sell, use or possess display fireworks or aerial consumer fireworks. Certain fireworks and devices that are exempt from the definitions of display fireworks and aerial consumer fireworks include but are not limited to:

  • Ground-based & hand-held sparkling devices
  • Fountains
  • Illuminating torches, wheels, spinners, flitter sparklers
  • Sparklers, party poppers, snappers, toy smoke devices, snakes, glow worms, wire sparklers & dipped sticks

Illegal Fireworks

Any firecrackers, rockets, mortars, or any other device that launches a projecile and/or makes a "bang"/detonation/report are illegal per RIGL § 11-13-1.

To file a complaint or report the use of illegal fireworks, contact your local police department. DO NOT call 9-1-1 to report fireworks or loud noises.

Sky Lanterns

Sky lanterns, or Kongming Lanterns, are typically small hot air balloons made of paper, with an opening at the bottom, where a small fire burns. The lantern, with the fire still burning, is released and then becomes airborne. The release of burning sky lanterns presents a serious risk of causing unintentional fires and injury. Their use in the State of Rhode Island is thereby prohibited.

The authority for the prohibition of sky lanterns is found in the following Rhode Island Fire Safety Code regulations:

  • NFPA 1 (2012 edition) 3.3.215: Recreational Fire. The noncommercial burning of materials other than rubbish for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, or similar purposes in which the fuel burned is not contained in an incinerator, a barbecue grill, or a barbecue pit, and the total fuel area is not exceeding 3 ft (0.9 m) in diameter and 2 ft (0.6 m) in height.
  • NFPA 1 (2012 edition) 10.11.2: The AHJ shall have the authority to prohibit any or all open flames, candles, and open, recreational, and cooking fires or other sources of ignition, or establish special regulations on the use of any form of fire or smoking material where circumstances make such conditions hazardous.
  • NFPA 1 (2012 edition) Open, recreational, and cooking fires shall be constantly attended by a competent person until such fire is extinguished.

Sky Lanterns Prohibited