Fireworks to soar in Georgia — legally — starting July 1

About the new fireworks law

Although it will be legal to sell, buy and possess many types of fireworks in Georgia beginning July 1, do not expect to see the combustible commodities available on every street corner.

The legislation that legalized fireworks places limits on where they can be sold, and it created a licensing process for anyone who wishes to do so. The state Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner must approve any application to sell fireworks. As of Friday, an office spokeswoman said, 40 of 537 applications had been approved, although more are expected to gain permission by July 1.

The privilege of firing off Roman candles, aerial rockets and mortars will carry an extra cost, though. In addition to normal state and local sales taxes, fireworks will be subject to an additional 5 percent tax.

While the new law puts restrictions on how and where the fireworks can be sold, there are few limitations on where and when they can be used. You can’t set them off within 100 yards of a nuclear power plant or a gasoline station. Otherwise, lock and load.

As long as you’re at least 18 years old, you can fire away any time between 10 a.m. and midnight for most of the year and until 2 a.m. around New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July.

Georgians ready to light up the sky on the Fourth of July — legally for the first time — should have plenty of places to buy their fireworks.

July 1 is the first day of the Fireworks Era in Georgia, as a new law takes effect making it legal for residents here to buy and possess their combustible favorites.

The head of one major fireworks company has plans to open three stores immediately and said Georgia is bound to be an explosive market.

“The time has come,” said Bill Weimer, the vice president of Ohio-based Phantom Fireworks.

His company has applied to open stores in Buford, Morrow and Duluth. He said the first two should be open by July 1.

“We have always thought Georgia was a good market,” Weimer said. Because fireworks sales were legal in almost every state bordering Georgia, he said, “it was sort of silly Georgia wasn’t.”

Anyone who wants to sell fireworks in the state has to get a permit from the state Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner. Office spokeswoman Laura Wright said it had received 537 applications as of Friday. Forty have been approved.

Wright said her colleagues are confident many more will be confirmed by the end of this month.

“All the applications are being reviewed,” she said. “For some cases, we’re waiting on the applicants to submit the required documents. If it takes the applicant a while to submit the documents, they may not make the July 1 schedule.”

For fireworks novices, the sudden access to the vast array of available products could be daunting. Phantom Fireworks has a 38-page catalog featuring hundreds, if not thousands, of products with prices as low as $3.99 for the Artificial Satellite that spins upward and shoots sparks and as high as $1,499 for the Grounds for Divorce Assortment.

Brian Hammock, an Atlanta fireworks expert, suggested fireworks newbies check out the mortar shells.

“Those are the ones you drop down into tubes,” said Hammock, a licensed pyrotechnician with East Coast Pyrotechnics. “Those are a little bit safer. They give you time to get away from them.”

Hammock, who helps orchestrate fireworks displays at Turner Field, has more advice for anyone planning their first fireworks foray.

“Try to stay sober,” he said, “and it sounds silly, but always read the instructions. I’ve seen people light Roman candles on the wrong end.”