Fire Safety for Public Outdoor Display of Fireworks Policy


The objective of this policy is to provide guidelines and procedures by which fireworks may be safely displayed and/or discharged outdoors upon the University of Florida campus.


Organizations, groups, and individuals sponsoring outdoor public display of fireworks shall comply with rules, regulations and procedures as outlined in this policy, as well as all applicable federal, state, and local laws, rules and regulations. Other types of fireworks not complying with this policy are expressly prohibited upon the University of Florida campus, except those complying with the University of Florida Policy on the use of Pyrotechnics before a Proximate Audience.


The following University requirements for the public outdoor display of fireworks are drawn from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Standard for Public Display of Fireworks (ANSI/NFPA 1123, Outdoor Display of Fireworks, 2006 Edition), SUS Chancellor’s memorandum CM-B-03.00-2/97, and firsthand knowledge of existing on-site physical conditions. The storage and transportation of fireworks shall comply with NFPA 1124 Code for the Manufacture, Transportation, and Storage of Fireworks, 2006 Edition and is not redefined by this policy.


Environmental Health and Safety

Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) shall review and approve the location of proposed fireworks discharge site.

EH&S shall provide supervision and guidance to fireworks operator prior to setting up the display, during discharge of the fireworks and after discharge to assist in determination that the launch area is safe.

EH&S shall secure the proper keys for lighting at the designated launch site. EHS shall advise the State Fire Marshal as appropriate of all proposed outdoor pyrotechnic displays.

University of Florida Police Department

The University of Florida Police Department (UPD) has the sole authority to suspend or terminate fireworks displays on the University of Florida campus at any time upon their own discretion and/or upon the advice of the University’s Division of Environmental Health and Safety, the producer of the event, or a Gainesville Fire Rescue official.

Fireworks Company/Operator

The fireworks company/operator shall supply the following: fireworks, tools and equipment for shipping and receiving, safety on-site storage, and the necessary number of qualified personnel needed to set up, fire the display and thoroughly clear the entire area of fireworks debris at the conclusion of the event.

Public display operators shall be licensed or approved in accordance with any and all applicable state, county, or municipal laws. The fireworks operator shall supply appropriate numbers and sizes of fire extinguishers. A Florida licensed fire equipment dealer shall tag the fire extinguishers.

The fireworks display contractor shall be required to conduct an on-site safety assessment, or determine same from previous site experience, prior to submitting a bid for a show.

An operator positioned to have the display within his sight shall ignite fireworks displays. Remote ignition systems not under direct control of the on-site operator will not be permitted. Details of any agreement relating to a variance to this item shall be decided on in conjunction with representatives of all entities involved in the approval of special events at the University of Florida.

The fireworks display contractor shall work within the limits specified in his approved bid submission. Electrical firing units shall be used for all displays and shall be manufactured for that purpose. Homemade electrical firing units are not permitted.

All displays shall be set up employing methods for interrupting firing in case an unforeseen danger becomes evident.

Organizations, Groups and Individuals

Organizations, groups and individuals sponsoring outdoor public display of fireworks shall do the following:

University administrative procedures require the producer/sponsor of a fireworks display to submit for approval a SPECIAL EVENTS FORM at least 15 days prior to any agreement is reached or contract signed for such events on the University of Florida campus. The form may be obtained at the Student Activities Center in the Reitz Union, room 300. Call (352) 392-1671 for information.

The City of Gainesville requires a Special Event Permit approved by the city fire, police, code and traffic departments. These applications should be processed at least 15 days in advance of the event. Contact Gainesville Fire Rescue at (352) 334-5065 to obtain a permit.

The following requirements must be included within all contracts:

The rules and regulations adopted by the University of Florida regarding firework displays shall be included in any contract entered into by the producer and/or sponsoring organization of each fireworks display on the University of Florida campus. This contract shall stipulate that the firms/individuals providing pyrotechnic displays meet all UF requirements plus applicable state, county and city laws or safety standards pertaining to licensure and permits, certifications of competency and display methods.

The sponsor of the pyrotechnics event or the contractor shall furnish a certificate of liability insurance in the amount of $1,000,000 naming the State of Florida, Florida Board of Education, Florida Board of Governors, University of Florida Board of Trustees and the University of Florida as additional insured’s.


Size/Type of Displays to be Permitted

  • Aerial displays shall not include free-floating devices or shells less than 3 inches in diameter unless they comply with third item below.
  • All ground displays shall be subject to approval by the University’s Division of Environmental Health and Safety, prior to assembly.
  • Aerial display devices smaller than 3 inches in diameter may be approved for displays at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field and on per request basis in other areas deemed safe by EH&S. These devices will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with supporting safety information provided by the pyrotechnic contractor. Multi-launch assemblies that utilize a cardboard or fiberboard structure often referred to as cakes will not be allowed unless encased in a rigid box enclosure, ¾ inch plywood or alternative material providing equivalent or greater rigidity. The enclosure shall be securely mounted.

Location and Security of Fireworks Display Sites

  • The discharge site of the fireworks display shall be located so that a minimum distance as specified by NFPA (see table 3-1.3) is maintained from the mortar launch site to spectators, dwellings or spectator parking areas.

Figures and Code Text Copyright NFPA:

Table 3.1.3 Distances for Outdoor Fireworks Display Sites: Minimum Separation Distances from Mortars to Spectators for Land or Water Displays

Mortar Size1   Minimum Secured
Diameter of Site2
Vertical Mortars3 Angled Mortars
  1/3 Offset4
Mortars to
Special Hazards5
in mm ft m ft m ft m ft m
<3  <76  420  128 210  64  140  43  420  128 
4 102  560  171  280  85  190  58  560  171 
127  700  213  350  107  230  70  700  213 
152  840  256  420  128  280  85  840  256 
178  980  299  490  149  320  98  980  299 
203  1120  341  560  171  370  113  1120  341 
10  254  1400  427  700  213  460  140  1400  427 
12  305  1680  512  840  256  560  171  1680  512 

>12 requires the approval  of the authority having jurisdiction
1 See 2.1.1
2 See 3.1.1
3 See 3.2.3
4 See Note that for angled mortars, the minimum secured diameter of the display site does not change. Only the location of the mortars within the secured area changes when the mortars are angled 
5 See Note that this is only the distance to the special hazards. The minimum secured diameter of the display does not change. 


Aerial shells, mines, and comets shall be classified and described only in terms of the inside diameter of the mortar from which they are fired [e.g., 3-in. (76-mm) aerial shells, mines, and comets are only for use in 3-in. (76-mm) mortars].


The site for the outdoor land or water display shall have at least a 70-ft/in. (22-m/2.5 mm) radius of internal mortar diameter of the largest aerial shell to be fired as shown in Table 3.1.3.

No spectators or spectator parking areas shall be located within the display site.

Dwellings, buildings, and structures shall be permitted to be located within the display site with the approval of the authority having jurisdiction and the owner of the dwelling, building, or structure, if the dwelling, building, or structure is unoccupied during the display, or if the structure provides protection through substantial noncombustible or fire- resistant construction for the occupants.


Where the mortars are positioned vertically, the mortars shall be placed at the approximate center of the display site.*

Mortars shall be permitted to be angled during a display to allow for wind and to carry shells away from the main spectator viewing areas.


See NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, for definitions of health care and detention and correctional facilities.


To determine whether materials are considered to possess these hazards, see NFPA 325, Guide to Fire Hazard Properties of Flammable Liquids, Gases, and Volatile Solids, and NFPA 49, Hazardous Chemicals Data. (Note: although NFPA 49 and NFPA 325 have been officially withdrawn from the National Fire Codes®, the information is still available in NFPA’s Fire Protection Guide to Hazardous Materials.)



Figure A. illustrates some of the requirements for a permitted display site where aerial shells are to be stored at the discharge site for subsequent loading into mortars during the display, such as might be the case for a manually ignited display.

Figure A. Typical layout for a display site using angled mortars. The distance, d, shall be at least 1/6 but not more than 1/3 the radius of the circle, indicating the minimum distance to the secured boundary.


Figure A. illustrates some of the requirements for a permitted display site where aerial shells are to be stored at the discharge site for subsequent loading into mortars during the display, such as might be the case for a manually ignited display.


The presence of a modest number of trees and shrubs should not be considered a safety problem, provided that they are not so numerous as to make it significantly more difficult to locate unexploded aerial shells or to pose a serious fire safety threat.

Issued February, 2004; Revised/Reviewed February, 2012