Are fireworks legal in California?

For many people, the Fourth of July holiday means BBQs, pool parties, good vibes, and of course, firework shows! But in the Golden State, you may want to think twice before lighting your own fireworks. 

Are fireworks legal?

In California, fireworks are illegal in certain cities and counties due to the risk of causing serious injuries, damage, and the risk of sparking a wildfire. On Jan. 1, an 18-year-old was killed in a fireworks explosion on San Francisco's Treasure Island, where possession of any firework is illegal.

However, "Safe and Sane" fireworks are permitted in certain areas and must bear the official seal. Only licensed retailers can sell these types of fireworks. According to Cal Fire, nearly 300 California communities allow "Safe and Sane" fireworks, including Dublin, Newark, Pacifica, Carson, Hawthorne, Compton, and Inglewood. The full list of cities can be viewed online by clicking here

Officials described "Safe and Sane" fireworks as those that are less likely to cause injury and generally don't explode or fly.

STANFORD, CA - JUNE 29: A Fireworks display after a game between Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford Stadium on June 29, 2024 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Maciek Gudrymowicz/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

"It's illegal to sell, transport, or use fireworks that do not carry the "Safe and Sane" seal, and it is illegal to possess or use any fireworks in a community where they are not permitted," Cal Fire's website detailed. 

Illegal fireworks include:

  • Sky rockets
  • Bottle rockets
  • Roman candles
  • Aerial shells
  • Firecrackers
  • Other fireworks that explode, go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner

Safe and Sane fireworks include:

  • Sparklers (no more than 10 inches)
  • Fountains
  • Smoke balls
  • Pinwheels
  • Ground-spinning fireworks


4th of July

If your fireworks are classified as "Safe and Sane", Cal Fire recommends following these safety tips.

  • Use only State Fire Marshal approved fireworks
  • Local ordinances should be verified before purchasing and/or using fireworks
  • Always read directions
  • Always have an adult present
  • Only use fireworks outdoors
  • Never use fireworks near dry grass or other flammable materials
  • Light one firework at a time
  • Have a bucket of water and a hose nearby
  • During this drought it is recommended that you use a bucket of gray/reused water to submerge your firework after it is used to fully extinguish it.

Punishment for illegal fireworks 

If you're caught with illegal fireworks, you can be fined up to $50,000 and/or face a year in jail. Many cities in California have zero tolerance for fireworks of any kind, even Safe and Sane fireworks, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, and San Jose.