In the state of Illinois, it is unlawful for anyone to “knowingly possess, offer for sale, expose for sale, sell at retail…any display fireworks, flame effects, or consumer fireworks,” unless specifically permitted by your jurisdiction. Only consumer distributors or retailers registered with the Office of the State Fire Marshall (OSFM) may distribute or sell consumer fireworks in Illinois, if the local jurisdiction allows through an adopted ordinance. If permitted by city ordinance, then no distributor may sell or transfer fireworks to any person who does not possess a valid display permit.
Any permitting process to purchase or utilize fireworks in a jurisdiction would have to be granted through City Ordinance and issued by the local fire department official who has been certified and trained by the OSFM to issue permits. Several factors go into a permitting process which includes the following:
- City ordinance that allows the sale, purchase, and use of consumer fireworks in their jurisdiction.
- Local fire department officials are trained and certified to issue permits to residents of their jurisdiction.
- Permit process in place that follows OSFM’s rules which include site inspection by a certified fire department official to verify minimum requirements which can be found under the Illinois Administrative Code Title 41: Fire Protection Section 235.100.
Due to the restrictions placed on the permitting process and the liability placed on the local fire department, it would be unrealistic for a fire official to be able to issue a consumer firework permit to any resident who resides within the city limits of Pontiac. Per the Illinois Administrative Code Section 235.100, it would be unlawful for a resident of the city of Pontiac to purchase consumer fireworks from a retailer that is conducting business within the city limits of Pontiac because they would be unable to obtain a permit to purchase and utilize if a process was adopted by the City Council.
As a result, the City of Pontiac on May 16th, 2023, adopted through ordinance 2023-0-14 that it shall be unlawful for any person, firm, co-partnership, or corporation to knowingly possess, offer for sale, expose for sale, sell at retail, or use or explode any display fireworks, flame effects, or consumer fireworks pursuant to the Illinois Pyrotechnic Act (425 ILCS 35/2). In summary, it will prevent the sale of consumer fireworks within the city limits of Pontiac. This does not include novelty fireworks (examples: snakes, poppers, etc) that may be sold at local retail stores.
From a quality-of-life perspective, Ordinance 2023-O-14 aims to provide respite to citizens who find the loud noises offensive. Historically, consumer fireworks would generate calls to the police for a few days prior to Independence Day. However, recent trends see that these are becoming issues several weeks before and after the mid-summer holiday. The Pontiac Police Department has averaged 39.3 documented fireworks complaints annually since 2020. Isolated violations or reports where the caller is unsure of the exact location often make it difficult to identify the person responsible, take enforcement action, and prevent further problems. Previously, violators were subject to a Class A misdemeanor under 425 ILCS 35/5. Currently, a person who possesses, stores, sells, displays, uses or explodes any consumer fireworks may receive an ordinance citation and have their fireworks confiscated. This ordinance applies to any consumer fireworks, regardless of whether they were purchased in another city or state. An ordinance citation is different from a criminal offense in that it will not be on a person’s permanent record, and the fine ranges from $50-$500.
As always, the primary goal of the Pontiac Police Department is compliance as opposed to a court sanction. We do however recognize the potential adverse effects of loud fireworks at all hours of the day, especially for veterans, citizens with small children, or households with pets.
Please feel free to reach out to the appropriate City of Pontiac department with any questions surrounding this ordinance.