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This Month in Business History

The Pyrotechnics/Fireworks Industry

A Short Guide to Selected Resources

Business Reference Services
July 2004; Updated June 2013

July 4th marks the founding of the United States, and for many the day would not be complete without the evening fireworks celebration. If you've ever wondered about the origins of this custom, fireworks appear to have been associated with this day since the founding of the republic. John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife on July 3, 1776, about the declaration: "I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations [fireworks] from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

Below are listed selected sources for locating information on the pyrotechnics or fireworks industry. For information on the science of fireworks, see the links on the Library's Science Reference Services web page, including the Everyday Mystery "How do fireworks work?"

Online Resources       Print Resources

Fireworks. Fireworks at Washington Monument I,
ca. 1920-ca. 1950.
Theodor Horydczak Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
Reproduction number: LC-H8-CT-F02-001-A

Online Resources

Fireworks: NOVA Online External Link

Fireworks: NOVA Online is produced for PBS by the WGBH Science Unit. Wide ranging site covering history and science of pyrotechnics, along with new high tech advances. Includes a teacher’s guide.

Pyrotechnics Guild International External Link

The site of Pyrotechnics Guild International, an independent worldwide nonprofit organization of amateur and professional fireworks enthusiasts. Site includes history of fireworks, fireworks safety guidelines, along with links to fireworks associations, journals, display operators, clubs, and manufacturers and distributors.

American Pyrotechnics Association External Link

According to its mission statement, the American Pyrotechnics Association, the major US fireworks trade association, encourages safety in the design and use of all types of fireworks, provides industry information, and promotes responsible regulation of the fireworks industry. The site includes links to state laws relating to the sale and use of fireworks, as well as links to other associations and US government agencies concerned with safety issues related to the manufacture, transportation, or use of fireworks, As announced on its website and that of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the APA partnered in June 2004 with the OSHA “to provide training and education on fireworks issues. The Alliance will help provide guidance and share APA's best practices for manufacturing, transportation, storage, sale, and use of commercial display fireworks, and the retail sale of consumer fireworks.”

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Fireworks Safety and Security

Includes information on federal regulations relating to fireworks record keeping and marks of identification, legal distance issues, answers to frequently asked questions, and the text of the Federal Explosive Law and Regulations. [PDF Format: 4.22 MB/ 112p.]

OSHA Assistance for the Pyrotechnics Industry.

US Dept. Of Labor. Occupational Safety & Health Administration.
Developed as part of the newly established Alliance between the American Pyrotechnics Association and OSHA, the initial emphasis on these pages are on common hazards and solutions in the retail sale and display of pyrotechnics. Issues in the manufacture and transport of these devices are not currently addressed.

Consumer Product Safety Fireworks Information Center

Includes tips for the safe use of fireworks and links to photos and video showing the dangers of fireworks. Also included is a link to a state-by-state listing of permitted fireworks, if any, in the various states.

Print Resources

Chemistry of pyrotechnics : basic principles and theory by John A. Conkling and Chris Mocella.
Boca Raton, FL : CRC Press, 2011. 2nd ed.
LC Call Number: TP300 .C66 2011
LC Catalog Record: 2010038207

Explosives & pyrotechnics by project director, Teresa L. Hayes ; corporate researcher, Kelly Weinberger.
Cleveland, OH : Freedonia Group, Inc., 1998.
LC Call Number: HD9663.U62 E87
LC Catalog Record: 2004208794

International fireworks trade directory. Dingmans Ferry, PA : American Fireworks News, c1995 - to date.
LC Call Number: HD9660.F52 I58
LC Catalog Record: 96648027

The illustrated dictionary of pyrotechnics by K.L. and B.J. Kosanke ; Ettore Contestabile, senior editor and contributor ; other contributors, Scot Anderson ... [et al.]. Whitewater, CO : Journal of Pyrotechnics, c1995.
LC Call Number: TP300 .K67 1995
LC Catalog Record: 2001515641

Safety of reactive chemicals and pyrotechnics by Tadao Yoshida, Yuji Wada, Natalie Foster, with the assistance of Bruce J. Thomson, Jinhua Peng, Yuhua Yu. HannŻosei kagaku busshitsu to kakŻohin no anzen. English Amsterdam : New York : Elsevier, 1995.
LC Call Number: T55.3.H3 Y6813 1995
LC Catalog Record: 95045227

Zambelli, the first family of fireworks : a story of global success by Gianni DeVincent Hayes. Forest Dale, Vt. : Paul S. Eriksson, c2003. 171 p.
LC Call Number: TP300 .D48 2003
LC Catalog Record: 98022327
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