The history behind the Fireworks Alliance is an example of what can be done when
adversity and opportunity combine to address a legacy of regulation and uncertainty.
For several decades, fireworks, model rocketry, and amateur science in the United
States have been under attack. Starting with the elimination of large firecrackers in
the 1960's, the imposition of strict limits on consumer fireworks in the 1970's, and
severe fireworks and rocketry regulations in nearly every State, the ability of American
citizens to enjoy pyrotechnicsy legally has become a difficult proposition. Despite polls that
show a clear majority of Americans support the right to purchase and use legal consumer fireworks, a small but vocal minority has been very effective in regulating or
eliminating fireworks in many jurisdictions.
While the ability to enjoy consumer fireworks has been curtailed, the situation is much
worse for hobbiests that want build their own fireworks or model rockets. Despite the
science, chemistry, and engineering that is required to learn how to build these items,
many States have enacted outright bans on building fireworks, and penalties for this
activity have increased to draconian levels. Under today's laws, Homer Hickam (the
inspiration behind the movie October Sky) would have been sent to prison if he had
built the same rockets that were shown in the movie "October Sky". As a matter of
fact, nearly half of the discoveries in energetic chemistry in the twentieth century would
have resulted in criminal prosecution if they been discovered over the past twenty years.
As a country, Americans have prided themselves on innovation and freedom. However,
with the imposition of the "Safe Explosives Act", it is now impossible for a high school
student to build a high powered rocket legally. And while many people cite safety
concerns in a continuing escalation of regulation, the fact is that fireworks have a
better safety record than many everyday activities, including bicycles, football, soccer,
baseball, fishing, boating, driving cars, rock climbing, parachuting, water skiing, and
over 170 other common activities (based on a CPSC 2005 report).
The board of the Fireworks Alliance had its first meeting on Saturday, April 15, 2006. The board went over a substantial amount of material, and the Fireworks Alliance is going to
need a great deal of help from the fireworks and rocketry communities. The first priority is
to build our membership, because the larger our membership is, the more congress
will listen to us. If you have not joined the Fireworks Alliance, please do so today (its
free). Your voice may make the difference between saving fireworks, rocketry, and amateur science for future generations, instead of relegating these activities into the dust bin of history.