AUSTIN (KXAN) — Even though every county in KXAN’s viewing area is under a burn ban, you may still see fireworks from your neighbors this Fourth of July, and they may be legal.
Even though it may seem like fireworks would fall under a county’s burn ban, there is often no overlap because of how state laws set requirements for implementing both burn bans and fireworks bans, Travis County officials explained.
Here’s a breakdown of the rules in Central Texas (and a deeper dive into what those state restrictions are).
Fireworks may only be sold during the following times of the year:
- From June 24-midnight on July 4
- From December 20-midnight on January 1
- From May 1-midnight on May 5 (only for counties located within 100 miles of the Texas-Mexico border and with county commissioners approval)
- There are three additional timeframes where county commissioners may allow fireworks to be sold. You can find those on the Texas Department of Insurance’s website.
Under state law, fireworks not allowed include:
- Some sky rockets, pop rockets or “bottle rockets”
- Fireworks that are deemed “not acceptable” by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. There are a number of federal codes that limit fireworks including rules that ban reloadable shell devices, firecrackers and ground fireworks with a certain amount of pyrotechnic powder in them (so things like ‘cherry bombs’, ‘M-80s’, ‘silver salutes’ and other large firecrackers) and aerial fireworks that have an “audible effect larger than 130mg.”
In Travis County, a burn ban does not restrict the sale and use of fireworks but Travis County commissioners have the ability to impose a fireworks ban, according to Travis County’s website.
That won’t happen this year because the county did not hit the requirements set forward by state law, according to Travis County Public Information Officer Hector Nieto.
“The statute provides that the order must be adopted before June 15 for the Fourth of July fireworks selling season,” Nieto said. “However, the County first must determine whether it will fall within drought conditions immediately preceding or during the fireworks season.”
Travis County did not hit those drought requirements, which are set by the Texas Forestry Service, Nieto explained. The forest service uses the Keetch-Byram Drought Index to determine the drought level required to implement the fireworks ban. Counties have to be at a KBDI average of 575 or higher. Nieto said as of June 13, Travis County was averaging a KBDI of 435.
Within Austin city limits, which is not under the county’s burn ban, fireworks are illegal. The below items are not considered fireworks and can be used, according to the city’s website.
- Snakes and GlowWorms
- Smoke bombs
- Wire sparklers
- Noisemakers such as party poppers or snappers
Those items are not considered fireworks by the U.S. Department of Transportation, which is why many counties and cities allow for those items.
In most Williamson County cities, it’s illegal to have any fireworks — sparklers included. As for the county, fireworks are not allowed in parks, within 600 feet of hospitals, sanitariums, veterinary hospitals, schools, churches or within 100 feet of a gas station. It is also illegal to shoot fireworks from a moving vehicle.
Meanwhile, Round Rock goes a bit further than other cities and does not allow for firecrackers, sparklers or even the caps that go into toy pistols. Breaking that rule can cost you $2,000, according to Round Rock’s website.
The same goes for Hutto where even sparklers are illegal, according to its fireworks code. Pflugerville also does not allow the sale or possession of firecrackers, Roman candles, sparklers or other fireworks, according to its fireworks code.
Georgetown’s code allows for those sparkler-level fireworks and also toy pistols or guns that average 2500ths of a grain of explosive composition or less and model rockets.
Williamson County has an interactive map where you can find the rules at your address. To find that map, click here. Note that if you’re on the border of the city line, most city codes make it so that the rules apply within and 5,000 feet outside of the official city boundary.
Fireworks are not allowed in Hays County Parks. Most cities within Hays County also do not allow for fireworks, but according to the Hays County website, there are no county fireworks restrictions this July 4.
Kyle does not allow fireworks within city limits including firecrackers, Roman candles and sparklers, according to its city code.
Fireworks are also not allowed in Buda.