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While fireworks actually predate American history by a few thousand years, fireworks have been a long standing symbol of American Independence since 1777.

Original celebrations of our independence included the firing of guns and cannons. While that has understandably fallen out of public favor due to safety concerns (imagine blasting a cannon in your backyard during your BBQ!), fireworks still reign supreme this time of year.

But while fireworks are fun, they are also dangerous. So they are heavily regulated in Maryland.

There are professional firework displays to be found throughout every state, but personal use of most fireworks is illegal in Southern Maryland the DC Metro area, and is a criminal offense punishable with large fines and even up to a year in jail. This list describes the fireworks laws in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C.


Any firework that explodes or launches a projectile in the air or moves on the ground is illegal in Maryland. This includes firecrackers, cherry bombs, black cats and M-80s.

Calvert County

The only legal fireworks are sparklers and ground-based sparkling devices that are non-aerial nonexplosive. All other fireworks are prohibited.

Charles County

Hand-held sparklers and ignitable snakes are allowed.

Frederick County

Only gold-label sparklers, novelty items and ground-based sparklers are legal.

Prince George’s County

All consumer fireworks, including sparklers, are prohibited.

Montgomery County

All fireworks, including sparklers, are illegal. Violators face a possible $500 fine.


Explosive fireworks and fireworks that launch aerial projectiles are illegal in Virginia. Illegal devices include firecrackers, cherry bombs and bottle rockets.

City of Alexandria

All fireworks, including sparklers, are illegal. The city warns of fines of up to $2,500 and up to 12 months in prison for those who set off illegal fireworks in the city.

Arlington County

Sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents, pinwheels — also known as whirligigs — or spinning jennies are permitted.

Fairfax County

Same as Arlington County.

City of Falls Church

All fireworks, including sparklers, are banned in the city.

Fauquier County

Sparklers and fireworks that don’t project into the air are allowed.

Loudoun County

Sparklers and ground-based fountains on private property are permitted

Manassas and Manassas Park

Sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpent and pinwheels are permitted.

Prince William County

The county says it has a zero tolerance for illegal fireworks. Sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents and pinwheels are allowed.

Spotsylvania County

Sparklers and fireworks that don’t explode in the air or travel on the ground are permitted.

Stafford County and Fredericksburg

Sparklers, fountains, Pharaoh’s serpents and pinwheels are allowed.

Washington D.C.


Firecrackers of any kind, any firework that explodes — such as cherry bombs, salutes and Roman candles — and sparklers longer than 20 inches. See the full list on the Metro Police Department site here.


Sparklers less than 20 inches, torches, cones, box fires and fountains.

Next Steps

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