Here’s what types of fireworks are (and aren’t) legal in Colorado

July 4th fireworks over Ruby Hill Park in Denver
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Fireworks explode all over the metro, as seen here from atop Ruby Hill. July 4, 2021.

It’s almost the Fourth of July and the perennial issue is upon us: Which fireworks are ok to shoot off in Colorado?

Simply put, fireworks are banned statewide if they explode or leave the ground. That means firecrackers, rockets, roman candles and cherry bombs are legally off the table. 

Colorado has multiple laws prohibiting their use. They’re intended to prevent large-scale grass or structure fires – with hefty fines for violations. Violators can rack up to $750 in fines, plus jail time. 

State laws do allow for fountains, ground spinners, sparklers and other smaller fireworks, depending on the municipality. But some cities and counties ban any fireworks at all. 

The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control keeps a list of active fire restrictions on its website. Most local governments also post their specific rules online. 

Fire departments regularly monitor weather forecasts, grass and brush moisture levels and regional fire restrictions. So, even if a local municipality does allow certain types of fireworks, that could change if conditions are dangerous enough to warrant a special alert, said Chris Brunette, section chief for the CDFPC. 

“We’ve had a series of very wet weeks this summer, but that can go away pretty quickly,” Brunette said. “So we and departments across the state have to continue to monitor and keep an eye on things.” 

If you’ve ever spent an Independence Day in Colorado, you know that lots of people don’t follow the rules. Enforcement can be spotty, especially when hundreds of complaints come in at once on the holiday itself. 

Fire officials say if you do decide to launch fireworks, some approaches are safer than others. 

The first smart decision you can make is to buy your fireworks from a licensed provider. The state keeps a list of certified shops on its website, so you can check if the products you’re buying are actually legal. Retailers should display a certification badge near checkout. 

It’s also important to keep all fireworks outside. Find a hard and flat surface like concrete or stone. Avoid places close to trees and grass, especially as it dries out over the weeks ahead of the July 4 holiday. 

If it’s windy, think twice before launching. Your fireworks may go a different direction than you intended, potentially leading to injuries and property damage. 

Also, be considerate to neighbors who may suffer from conditions such as PTSD or have pets that are sensitive to loud noises, said Commander Wendy Lippman with Aurora Fire Rescue. 

“That’s important,” she said. “And keep your pets indoors in a safe, quiet place.” 

When launching fireworks, it’s important to think about how you’ll extinguish them ahead of time. Smoldering fireworks left in a trash bin can start a fire. 

For your own safety, allow fireworks to sit untouched for an hour to allow them to fully stop burning. Then, dunk them in water for 20 minutes, and overnight if possible. Once they’re done soaking, you can wrap them using trash bags, ziploc bags or plastic wrap so that the wet explosives don’t dry out. 

Fireworks are not recyclable and should go directly into the garbage once safely extinguished.

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