ATF Regulatory Changes - Affecting All of us
- For those of you who do not subscribe to 'the lists' (PML and/or PGI),
the following was posted by John Steinberg, PGI 2nd VP.
It covers DOT and BATFE rules and regulatory enforcement changes and
interpretations of their rules which WILL AFFECT ANYONE transporting
product anywhere but more currently, especially those of us who are
planning to take product to the convention this August.
This is a must read - it points out once again how our various
'protection agencies' view things and handle things quite differently
and how those differences impact us all.
In addition I will add another urging for all Iowa Hobbyists regardless
of affiliations who don't belong yet to join the IPA and to join the PGI
Much attention is given to the annual PGI Convention but this event, as
wonderful as it is, remains only a tiny fraction of what the PGI is
about and it often gets lost how important this organization is to all
of us who love pyrotechnics - member of it or not.
Providing your support whether it be in the form of PGI membership dues,
donations to the Fireworks Foundation (hint-hint) or in voluntary
service we stand a far better chance of surviving as hobbyists in mass
numbers than by isolating ourselves.
We are so blessed to have among the PGI ranks some of the most
knowledgeable and dedicated hobbyists, professionals and legal experts
in the pyro-world. This article gives a 'back-stage' glimpse at what the
PGI does in its day-to-day operations and why it is so vitally important
to all of us that we back the efforts of it.
[end of shameless plugs - now please read the article thoroughly :-)]
Subject: [pml] You must have an ATF license to transport fireworks in
PML list members:
While this is only of import to those in the US, it does affect a great
many of us. If you are a pyro in the US, please read this article about
the rescission of previously granted hobbyist transportation exemptions
Transportation of Fireworks by Hobbyists June 2009 Update: URGENT
READING By John Steinberg
This article has been vetted for legal accuracy and reviewed by PGI
Attorney, Doug Mawhorr.
If you are even thinking about bringing fireworks to the PGI, that are
regulated as explosives by ATF, please read this article thoroughly as
there has been a major change in rules interpretation and enforcement
by ATF. Let me also clarify and reiterate DOT rules interpretation
which has NOT changed.
1) If you are NOT in commerce, DOT rules and regulations do NOT apply
to you. You need not have a CDL, placards, log book, MCS 90 insurance
certificate and $5 million in coverage, hazardous materials
2) If you are in commerce, you need all of the above and more.
If you are bringing your own non-commercial fireworks to the PGI for
your own enjoyment, DOT has no issue with you and you have none with
them. This has not changed.
If PGI is paying you to do a display, EVEN if you are a club, you MUST
find a qualified means to transport your pyrotechnic materials to the
convention. This most likely means working with a display company as no
club I know of, including the PGI, can afford to become a commercial
transporter of display fireworks.
Some history is required here:
On May 24, 2003, the Safe Explosives Act took effect. This required an
ATF license for ALL transportation of regulated explosives on public
"Public roads" means anything off your personal property.
A User Limited ATF license will allow intrastate transportation.
An ATF license, of any type greater than User Limited, is required for
In 2006, the ATF conducted an enforcement operation at the Appleton PGI
convention. Though no material was seized and no persons were charged,
this created a problem that we felt needed to be addressed.
To that end, on December 11, 2006, our attorney, John Brooke, Tom
Handel, and I met with ATF and DOT personnel at ATF HQ. Representing
ATF at that meeting were, among others, ATF Co-Chief Counsel, Teresa
Ficaretta, Arson and Explosives Division Explosives Industry Branch
Programs Chief Gary Bangs, and his immediate superior, Mark Jones, the
Deputy Division Chief.
An agreement was arrived at, endorsed by ATF Counsel, that a member of
a club could transport hobbyist materials to a club event under the
club ATF license. An agreement was also reached whereby it was
determined that travel requiring an overnight stay would still be
interpreted as transportation and that no magazine storage would be
required. Table of distances requirements would be in force, however,
but cars would not count as occupied structures, so parking lots would
have sufficed so long as the vehicle was locked. The details of and
permissions granted under this agreement have previously been published
in some detail and I will not reiterate those details here.
Though we asked ATF to reduce this agreement to writing, no written
response was ever provided to the questions we posed. These questions
have now been answered in the June 2009 ATF Explosives Industry
For two and a half years, this verbal agreement was honored. No other
interpretation was offered and enforcement was consistent with the
agreements reached in 2006 by ATF and PGI.
DOT did not offer any changes in regulatory interpretation at this
meeting and none were requested of DOT by PGI.
The ATF regulation interpretation has now changed. The permissions
previously afforded members to transport under a club license have been
unilaterally rescinded and previous permissions granted must be
considered as revoked.
If you are a non-ATF-licensed hobbyist:
1) You may continue to make and use regulated explosives for your own
non-commercial enjoyment on your own property and must comply with
lawful storage requirements.
2) You may NOT transport that material to a club event on the club
3) You may transfer your material to an ATF license holder. BUT, you
may NOT transport the material off your property to that license
holder. An ATF license holder may come to you, collect your material,
create a record of acquisition, and then transport the materials to his
magazine, logging them in properly. This is NO longer your material. The
transfer must remain NON-COMMERCIAL. No payment for this service may be
made by you to the license holder nor any payment made to you for the
material. The license holder may bring this non-commercial material to
an ATF-licensed-club event and transfer the material to the possession
of the club. The club must create a record of acquisition. If you are a
member of the club, with the club's permission, you may then be allowed
to fire said material at that club event. But, the material can never
be returned to your possession.
>From this point forward, with NO EXCEPTIONS:You MUST have an ATF User Limited License for ANY intrastate (within
your state, crossing NO state boundary lines) transportation of
regulated explosive materials, whether in commerce or not.
You must have an ATF license, of any type greater than User Limited,
which is required for ANY interstate transportation of regulated
Further, as if that news were not enough, you are now in transportation
ONLY while en route and moving. Whether or not you are an ATF license
holder, if you stop overnight, your material MUST either be placed in a
lawful magazine or, in a locked and attended vehicle AT THE DISPLAY
I was pleased that we could work out the agreement that was in force
for the last two and a half years. I am dismayed that an agreement that
worked so well has now been unilaterally discarded without any
consultation with or communication to those affected, except as
provided in the newsletter. But, that?s the way it is.
Given the recent changes in ATF interpretation of explosives rules that
rescind these two key allowances previously afforded hobbyists as
published in the June Industry Newsletter, I think it would be both
reasonable and prudent to expect an ATF enforcement action at the PGI
convention and, perhaps, at other regional club activities. Thus, if
you are not 100% certain you are lawfully transporting fireworks
(non-commercial, ATF license holder) do not even think about doing so
this year. If you can find a license holder to come collect your
material and are willing to part with it, as described above, this is
your only remaining option to be a non-licensed hobbyist manufacturer
and shoot your material at club events held at sites other than on your
property. Otherwise, your best course would be to obtain an ATF license
and a contingency storage letter from a license holder or to establish
proper storage on your own premises.
Remember, a license holder may still grant you permission to store
material in his or her magazine, so, while a license is required for
transportation, you need not have storage on your property.
As an example, a member of the Crackerjacks club could:
1) obtain a user, non-limited ATF license
2) make fireworks for his own enjoyment at the Crackerjacks club site
3) store the material in the Crackerjacks magazines, after obtaining
written permission to do so
4) then collect the material and transport it, without any DOT
constraints, to the PGI event or other event, so long as NO
compensation is provided for your doing so (you must remain
In closing, this is, in my opinion, bad news and certainly makes life
more complicated, but, for all but a few hobbyists, there are still
solutions that will allow you to continue to enjoy your hobby. Whatever
you choose to do, please do so lawfully. If you have any questions,
feel free to contact me by email. I will answer your questions and have
our attorneys vet those answers for accuracy.