ATF Warns Consumers: Illegal Explosives Devices Are Not Fireworks

Jun 09, 2010, 11:31 ET from Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

WASHINGTON, June 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) wants consumers to celebrate safely this Fourth of July and be mindful that illegal explosives devices are not fireworks.  Illegal or improperly used fireworks can cause severe injuries or even death.

ATF wants to make consumers aware that illegal explosive devices are not fireworks.  Users risk injury, disfigurement or death by manufacturing or using them.  

Illegal explosive devices – commonly referred to as M-80s, quarter sticks, or cherry bombs – often come in plain brown or white wrappers, with no identifying marks.  Because they meet neither safety nor quality standards, they are extremely dangerous.  They can be highly unstable because heat, shock or pressure can trigger accidental detonation.  Consumer fireworks, unless restricted by state or local laws, are fireworks which can be sold to the general public.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) defines consumer fireworks to those limited to 500 grams of composition, and firecrackers having up to 50 milligrams of flash powder.  Reloadable shells are limited to 1.75 inches in diameter, and shells in pre-fused tubes are limited to 2 inches.  Any fireworks that exceed these limits are classified as display fireworks and require anyone importing, manufacturing, dealing in, or otherwise receiving display fireworks have an ATF license or permit.  Legal fireworks are marked with brightly colored and decorated paper and include a trade name and manufacturing information.  

ATF is the federal law enforcement agency charged with enforcing federal explosives laws.  ATF actively works with the CPSC, industry partners and with state and local agencies through their fireworks enforcement programs to prevent trafficking of illegal fireworks and to protect citizens from the dangers of illegal explosive devices.

Report the manufacture or sale of illegal fireworks or explosive devices to your local law enforcement agencies and by calling the toll-free ATF hotline at 1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-283-2662), or emailing

More information on ATF and its programs can be found at

ATF Public Affairs Division


SOURCE Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives