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Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS)


Reference Number: MTAS-73
Reviewed Date: 12/16/2022

The state requires anyone manufacturing, distributing, selling, or displaying fireworks to have a permit issued by the state fire marshal. An application for a retailer’s permit must be accompanied by a statement that selling fireworks within its county or municipality is permissible. The statement must be signed by the mayor or an appointee responsible for enforcing this requirement. It is illegal to sell any fireworks in a county or municipality where sale has been made illegal by ordinance or law. It also is illegal to ship fireworks for sale at retail into one of those municipalities or counties. T.C.A. § 68-104–105. The minimum age to purchase common fireworks is 16. Persons 16 or 17 who wish to buy these fireworks must show a state-issued ID or be accompanied by an adult. Municipalities may adopt the offense of selling fireworks to an underage person by reference. T.C.A. §§ 68-104-112 and 114.

In counties where sales are not prohibited, a city may by private act or ordinance regulate, restrict, or totally prohibit the sale of fireworks within the city. T.C.A. § 68-104–116. Retail sales of Class C common fireworks are prohibited in any county of more than 355,000 population except in any city therein with a population of 600 to 620 that permitted such sales before 1984, or unless the retailer has been selling fireworks annually at the stand for at least 45 years. T.C.A. § 68-104-112(a)(4).

Display Fireworks
T.C.A. §§ 68-104-201, et seq., establish a state program of licensing display fireworks (Class B or 1.3) exhibitors and a certification program for display fireworks operators.

Exhibitors must file an application with the state and carry a minimum of $1 million in general liability insurance for the benefit of any person injured by a fireworks display. Operators, or the people who actually shoot the fireworks, must be trained and certified. T.C.A. § 68-104-204.

A municipality performing a fireworks display need not be a licensed exhibitor but must have a certified operator supervising or discharging the display, show proof of insurance, and have the fireworks supplied by a licensed exhibitor. Prior to any public fireworks display, an application must be filed with the state fire marshal at least 10 days prior to the display. T.C.A. § 68-104-211.

Municipalities may enforce local regulations relating to displays of fireworks. Municipalities also may adopt the criminal provisions of the law as an ordinance violation. Local ordinances also may regulate the storage of these fireworks.

A display permit application must bear the "signed" approval of the chief supervisory official of the fire department. Written notification must be sent to chief law enforcement officer. T.C.A. § 68-104-211.