It is expected that many Americans will be celebrating the Fourth of July, and quite frankly, we all deserve it after living through a global pandemic for nearly 16 months. 

While Independence Day is synonymous with all things American (apple pie, baseball, the flag and beautiful fireworks displays), recreational use of these pyrotechnics can pose liability and hazards to both people and property. We recommend that community associations and condominium associations remind residents of the dangers, the law and ultimately adopt rules and regulations in an effort to keep residents and the Association’s property safe.

As a general reminder, the laws in Illinois are quite strict and actually ban most categories of consumer fireworks.  The only legal “fireworks” include novelty products like:

  • Smoke devices;
  • Noisemakers known as “poppers”
  • Ground snakes and
  • Sparklers

With that said, practically everything else is illegal and off-limits.  Notwithstanding, it is quite clear (our poor furry friends) that many Illinoisans cross borders to nearby states to purchase fireworks. However, under the law, once you enter Illinois with these products you are in violation of the Pyrotechnic Use Act. Violations can lead to a $2,500 fine and up to one year in prison. Additionally, unlawful possession, use or purchase of display fireworks is a violation of the Illinois Explosives Act.

Along with state laws, local municipalities also ban fireworks. Section 3.4 of the Pyrotechnic Use Act gives municipalities the authority to enact an ordinance prohibiting the sale and use of sparklers on public property. For example, some villages take an even stricter stance and prohibit sparklers, so it is important to be cognizant of your local municipality.

The sheer fact is that 99.9% of firework products are illegal in the state of Illinois. Associations should remind their residents that fireworks are better suited for professional displays and ensure they have a sound policy to deter recreational use on Association property. Quite simply, they are not worth the risks they pose.

Matthew O’Malley (“Matt”) is an associate attorney at Tressler LLP in Chicago and member of the Litigation and HOA Practice Groups.  Further, he serves as Secretary of the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Matt advises his clients on litigation strategies, skillfully representing them through all phases of litigation and holds a track record of success in both bench and jury trials.   Matt assists his condominium and HOA clients on a wide range of general corporate issues, including the creation and amendments of governing documents, daily operations, and collection work. Matt can be reached at and is able to help evaluate your business records, and otherwise assist you.

For more information about this article, contact Matt O’Malley at or by phone at (312) 627-4052.