Texas Pyrotechnic Licensing Overview

Pyrotechnic Artists of Texas (PAT) is the best place to learn about Pyro in Texas. You should attend our PAT Events:

You should monitor our website “Events” tab and our Facebook Page to get an idea about our Events:

Quite a few Texans attend PGI Conventions. If you’re really into pyro and have a bit of free time, it’s not to be missed. Let us know if you’re attending so we can clue you into Texan activities. They also have an extensive Youth Program during the Convention:

Many Builders(of fireworks) read & post on this forum, among others:
http://www.passfire.com/ (builders forum)

Listed below are some notes I’ve distributed previously, it provides an overview of Texas licensing requirements. This my understanding after 12-years working as a part-time professional in Texas and Oklahoma, contracting with professional Fireworks companies and also shooting for my own LLC. I have my SEO and FPO licenses and have been lead or co-lead shooter on about 100 displays (70-1.4G / 30-1.3G):

You’ll need to study NFPA and Texas Regulations:
NFPA 1126 for SEO Test - 1.4G “small or consumer fireworks”
NFPA 1123 for FPO Test - 1.3G “large or commercial fireworks”
Texas Code For Both Tests: http://www.tdi.texas.gov/fire/documents/fmstatfireworks.pdf

Texas Test Registration and Details:

You should get your Special Effects Operator (SEO) license, it just takes passing the test, which is over material in NFPA 1126 and the Texas Code. In Texas, you can buy and store 1.4G product subject only to local restrictions, like a City Ban. You can ignite a private display (less than 50 people and not for hire) of 1.4G product subject only to local firing restrictions. For a public display, either for hire or for more than 50 people, you must get the permission of the local AHJ, Authority Having Jurisdiction, typically the local Fire Chief or Marshall, and carry Fireworks Liability Insurance per the Texas Code, for that specific event. For such a public 1.4G display, you must follow the rules, one shooter must have their SEO license, crowd 200 feet away, 2 fire extinguishers min., permission of the AHJ, have the requisite insurance, shooters wearing hard hats and eye & ear protection, etc. Also, sometimes you might need a City or Park permit for a special event where required.

And if you’re doing it at a rural camp like Sky Ranch or a YMCA Camp, you’ll need the Camp Management permission and also add them as insured’s on your Liability insurance policy for the display.

For setting up and doing a 1.3G display yourself in Texas, even for one shell, you need to get your Fireworks Pyrotechnic Operator (FPO) license. You need 5 Sign Off’s on the license application, where the lead shooter of a Permitted 1.3G display signs the form and includes his FPO license number and the date of the display. There’s no point in registering for the test until you get the Sign Off’s. Once you have them, you take the Fireworks Pyrotechnic Operator test, pass it, and then you get your license. The test will be over material in NFPA 1123 and the Texas Code.

Now, buying, carrying, storing, and shooting 1.3G is complicated:

You should study the ATF “Orange Book”:

You need a Federal BATF (ATF) explosives or fireworks license to buy 1.3G product and you need an ATF registered 1.3G Magazine to store 1.3G product to get your license. You can also get your BATF license if another licensed operator will allow you to have “contingency storage” in their registered magazine, they would track your inventory in their records. Operating your own magazine you would need to carefully track inventory and be ready for unannounced inspections by the ATF annually. Even for storing homemade 1.3G product overnight, you will need an ATF license and magazine (or contingency storage). You need a qualified Commercial Drivers License (CDL) with requisite HazMat insurance and public placarding in order to transport 1.3G product “in commerce". For ignition of any 1.3G product in Texas you need a State Display Permit, and Fireworks Liability Insurance is required to get the State Permit. You need AHJ permission and similar City or Park permission where required, similar to 1.4G.

The minimum annual charge for insuring any Public fireworks display:
Insurance broker Professional Program Insurance Brokerage(PPIB) has set the following rates for a $1M GL (per incident, $2M aggregate) fireworks policy via Lloyd’s of London.
PPIB’s minimum annual charge for insuring any firework’s display, for GL insurance alone, is $1500. per year for the annual premium, total cost with Broker Fee & Tax is about $1800., this would cover a couple of Displays totaling up to $10k in Retail Display Value. For doing more displays, $3,500 per year($3,858. with Broker Fee & Tax) will cover up to $50,000. in Retail Display Value, e.g.- it would cover quan. 5 - $10,000. shows or 10 - $5000. shows per year, whether 1.4G or 1.3G doesn’t matter, only the estimated or actual Retail Value of the Displays matters. The contact for a PPIB policy is here:
http://www.combinedspecialties.com/ (agent)
https://www.ppibcorp.com/ (broker)

If you’re scaling above $50,000. in Display Sales, consider insurance broker Ryder, Rosacker, Mccue, & Huston, who offer an entry level audit based policy: for $64,000 in Retail Display Value the base cost is: $4000., with Broker Fee’s and Taxes the total cost is $4,673. annually. At the end of your premium year, they will audit(ask for) your Display Fee total for the year, any amount of Retail Display Value over $64,000. will be billed to you at a rate of $52 per $1000 that you went over, plus tax. At a minimum this gives you an idea of what Display Insurance will cost you as your business grows, and the difference is due at the end of your premium year. The contact for a Ryder Insurance policy is here:
https://www.ryderinsurance.com/business-fireworks-insurance (broker)

So, unless you are willing to buy insurance or someone else supplies it, you can’t really ever legally shoot 1.3G, even by yourself, in Texas. With your SEO and FPO licenses, you could be a lead shooter on Public 1.4G or 1.3G shows, respectively, for a professional company. With insurance, you could shoot a Public 1.4G or 1.3G show, and you could get a state permit for a 1.3G show. With an ATF license you could buy 1.3G product, then you could have a wholesaler drop ship (via HazMat carrier) the 1.3G product to your shoot location, and then you could shoot it. Storing the 1.3G would take ATF registration of a magazine or having contingency storage. Then you could hire a HazMat carrier with their CDL & Hazmat insurance to transport the product from your magazine to your shoot sites, if it is a display your’re getting paid for.

Whew, I love PAT so much! The established professionals have jumped through all these hoops and still allow new people to train and have fun with all sorts of product, including 1.3G but also using their ATF licenses to source and then supply materials that allow you to build shells and rockets. With PAT, you could eventually get your FPO Sign Off’s without needing to indenture yourself to one professional company, ie. - signing 2-year non-compete agreements to work their shows. There’s a bunch of professional display companies in Texas who don’t participate in PAT, and some actively discourage sharing fireworks information, like what PAT can teach you and some of what I’ve just written, since they don’t want any more competition.

The opinions and views above are my own, not PAT’s.

Best regards,



I just went to a BATF conference at the PGI. I think I can clarify a few points for hobbyists. It was given by an active BATF agent from PA.

  1. You absolutely do not need any permit or license to make fireworks of any kind on your own property for your own use (from the feds). However, you must burn up all the creations on that same day. As soon as you store them, any amount, you have broken the law unless you have an approved storage magazine. So, realistically, we all need at least a permit. And all of us must have a magazine; storage is their big deal.
  2. The 2 new classifications are simple: user PERMIT and manufacturing LICENSE. He made it very clear, with repeated questions, that making pyro for your own use, with no commercial application, you only need a PERMIT. But if you even sell a video online, get money from YouTube, or accept donations from people watching your pyro, etc, you have gone commercial and need a LICENSE. The difference is only monetary, a permit is $150 for 3 years and a license is $300 for 3 years. Otherwise, the same magazine requirements, etc.
  3. Most of us only need a type 4 magazine. Just say no to bulk salutes (a box of entirely salute shells) and no premixed flash. And if it is indoors the requirements are pretty easy to satisfy. Just do not keep more than 50# total pyro weight at any one time; this weight includes loose powder and any comp inside rockets, shells, fuse, etc…
    You are also allowed to have 2 or more indoor magazines, each in a different building, and each will have its own 50# limit.
  4. We will be asked if we are ‘familiar’ with state and local regulations and will need to sign that we are. Some agents may check with your local fire marshall to ensure you are compliant, although they are not required to do so.

To me those were the pertinent requirements from the feds for hobbyist use and creation of fireworks, which would include rockets and aerial shells.
Bottom line, we all need an approved magazine.

1 Like

A PAT member just received this response from the Texas State Fire Marshall’s Office.

From: Michael Borden Michael.Borden@tdi.texas.gov
Date: October 30, 2017 at 4:21:40 PM CDT
Subject: Manufacturing Fireworks

Below is a response sent from our office for a similar question. If it does not answer your question please let me know.

Subject: RE: Fireworks Licensing
You asked:
If i get a manufacturing License and build my own fireworks …
It is important to make the distinction that fireworks are formally manufactured items produced and labeled according to the requirements and specifications of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. They are classified by the USCPSC as 1.3G or 1.4G. In this instance, you would be building explosive devices for your own use – not manufacturing fireworks.
The Texas Occupations Code (TOC) Section 2154 and the Texas Administrative Code Section 34.800 pertain to the Texas licensing of those in the business of making, selling and/or discharging fireworks in public. TOC 2154 defines fireworks as meeting the CPSC specifications and classified as 1.3G or 1.4G. That being the case, a hobbyist combining chemicals for his own use is not addressed and is not required to have a license through the state. The hobbyist activities may be restricted, require a license or be regulated by city codes, county codes, or federal laws enforced through local or federal agencies such as ATF, DOT, Homeland Security, United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, etc.

You asked:
Will I be able to use them any time of the year outside of city limits?
In most cases, local ordinances govern the use of fireworks by the general public. You will need to verify with city and county officials whether possession and use of fireworks, pyrotechnics and/or homemade explosive devices is legal in your area and whether any special circumstances exist (burn bans).
The TOC 2154 only addresses the use of fireworks by the public in a very few limited situations (see 2154.251). With one exception, a hobbyist discharging explosive devices that they assembled would not fall under TOC 2154 or require a permit through the SFMO. The exception would be if the use of the device is before an assembly of 50 people or more. TOC 2154.253 addresses the use of pyrotechnics before 50 or more people and has several requirements, including a permit from the local ahj, insurance coverage, and a Texas licensed pyrotechnic special effects operator present and supervising the display. This section deals with use of pyrotechnics and is not limited to just “fireworks”. It would apply to the devices assembled by the hobbyist as well (if used before 50 people or more).

Mark Lockerman
Director of Licensing
State Fire Marshal’s Office
Texas Department of Insurance

Michael D. Borden
Deputy State Fire Marshal
Captain Licensing Investigations
P.O. Box 149221
Austin, TX 78714-9221

This is a useful Dropbox link from Dave Stoddard, a famous pyro. He wrote up a Powerpoint that instructs you how to fill our an ATF Application. He also includes a copy of his Magazine spreadsheet, it shows the various types of data required to be kept for ATF inventory purposes. Also included are copies of the ATF Orange Book and variance letter.

Anyone planning on getting their Permit or License, feel free to reach out to me with any questions.