TNT Fireworks urges state officials to clamp down on illegal sales coming into California

National fireworks distributor TNT Fireworks has launched a campaign to curb the flow of illegal fireworks from Nevada to California and to remind residents to “be responsible” by disposing of used fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday.

As part of the campaign, TNT provided a report to State Fire Marshal Daniel Berlant that offers ideas on addressing the continued sales and distribution of illegal fireworks from the Silver State.

Under TNT’s recommendations, which were endorsed by the fire marshal’s General Fireworks Advisory Committee, the Alabama-based company proposes stricter regulations on the sales and transportation of fireworks across state lines and stronger collaboration between officials in the two states.

Firework companies and state officials pointed to fireworks stores right over the border in Nevada towns such as Schurz, Pyramid Lake and Battle Mountain as easy sources of illegal fireworks for Northern Californians. According to a company news release, officials said that fireworks are frequently purchased from those stores, sometimes in mass quantities, and then resold in California and set off, prompting concerns because they can be more powerful and lack the “Safe and Sane” seal of California’s fire marshal for safety.

Seven Northwest Nevada fireworks stores — and six in Pahrump, just west of Las Vegas — sell Class 1.4G consumer-grade fireworks, which are federally approved but illegal in California, a state that has stringent rules in part because the explosives can “increase the threat for devastating fires throughout all of California,” according to Cal Fire.

Designation 1.4G, a shipping classification defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation, were once known as Class C “common” fireworks — 1.4G refers to the type of hazard, 1 being an explosive; the danger of the hazard, 4 considered “no significant hazard”; and G for a designation of the explosive, in this case a pyrotechnic that produces effects through a combination of heat, light, sound, gas and smoke, according to federal regulations.

In the past, firework stores in Pahrump, which make up the town’s second-largest revenue generator, according to TNT representative Dennis Revell, have provided cause for alarm because of mass amounts of fireworks being bought in bulk and transported to California.

Pahrump is a somewhat remote town, and the news release said that each of the 38,000 residents would have to buy thousands of dollars of fireworks to account for the sales made in Pahrump, where it is illegal to set them off.

The company estimates that 60% to 70% of the illegal fireworks in the Golden State come from those 13 stores over the border.

A 2023-24 report by the San Francisco grand jury found that most explosions in the city were from “fireworks that are illegal in California, but which are for sale in the neighboring state of Nevada.”

TNT recommended in its report that an interstate compact and task force could help curtail the flow of illegal fireworks over I-80 and other roadways going west.

This year at all of its stands, which are run by charity and nonprofit groups, TNT will share fliers and other information featuring a QR code that customers can scan to learn of effective disposal techniques after lighting their fireworks. The message, from TNT and fire officials: “Let your fireworks take a bath!”

In other words, consumers are encouraged to have a bucket or bin filled with water where fireworks can cool off before being thrown away the next day. The public service campaign will also be featured in cable TV spots and on social media.

By submerging fireworks overnight in water in a non-combustible container — and ensuring they are cool to the touch before disposing of them — TNT and fire officials hope to cut down on the number of fires unintentionally sparked at homes and in open spaces.

In the past to address unsafe fireworks, TNT backed Senate Bill 839 in 2007, which allows local jurisdictions to impose fines for possession or use of illegal fireworks and made the “Nail’em” app available to report illegal fireworks activity to authorities.

In 296 California neighborhoods where the sale of state-approved fireworks is legal, TNT generates $110 million of revenue for the over 2,700 nonprofit groups they collaborate with during the July 4th season.

Rules on fireworks vary across the capital region. For example, fireworks sales and use are OK in most parts of Sacramento County, including the city, as well as in Placer County and three of its western-slope cities, and Yolo County and in several of its incorporated cities excluding Davis.

Sacramento County supervisors earlier this year tightened restrictions on when fireworks can be set off and boosting fines for lighting pyrotechnics at schoolyards and in parks.

“We’re trying to be part of the solution,” Revell said.