All public fireworks displays, even those organized by local fire departments, must receive a permit issued by the Indiana State Fire Marshal, per Indiana Code 22-11-14 and Indiana Administrative Code Title 675, Article 12, Chapter 9. The permit authorizes the use of professional grade fireworks but is not effective until the local fire chief approves the operator of the show and inspects the display site to determine the display site and plan are safe.
The permit must be received to possess, deliver and transport the special fireworks too. See Indiana Code 22-11-14-2 and Indiana Administrative Code Title 675, Article 12, Chapter 9, Section 5 (pages 49–50). In addition to the state permit, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) license or permit may be required.
Applications for permits must be received at least five business days before the date of a display, and the applications should include the resume of the fireworks display operator's (or operators') experience in preparing displays, igniting or discharging fireworks, implementing emergency procedures and disposing of unfired or defective fireworks.
A common issue is that a display operator does not file for a permit at all. IDHS recommends that the chief of the fire department of the municipality in which the display is to be held take the initiative to contact the operator and make sure that a permit has been applied for. The permit issued by the State Fire Marshal will not be effective until the local fire chief has approved the operator of the display as qualified and has inspected the site of the display to determine that the display will not be hazardous to property or persons. To aid this process, fire chiefs should keep their email address updated with their municipality and IDHS to ensure the permit application information goes to the right place in a timely manner. Once fire chiefs receive notice, they should review the operator's resume and inspect the fireworks display site using the NFPA 1123 Code for Fireworks Display. Fire chiefs and fire marshals are also encouraged to take the Guidelines for Public Fireworks Displays course through the Acadis Portal and use a checklist.
Based on state statute and NFPA 1123, the following applies for fireworks displays in Indiana:
- If the fireworks show is for a private gathering where 1.3g fireworks are intended to be used, IDHS considers this a public display and a permit must be obtained.
- If a permit is not obtained for a private gathering, then only consumer 1.4g fireworks can be used.
- If a fireworks show is a traditional public display for public purposes (at baseball games or theme parks, for a city and so on), then a public display permit is required.
Any individual who wants to possess 1.3g (special) fireworks must have a supervised public display permit. Individuals are not permitted to buy and use 1.3g fireworks for personal use unrelated to a public display per Indiana Code 22-11-14-2(f), which states that a "person may not possess, transport, or deliver special fireworks, except as authorized under [IC 22-11-14-2]." Indiana Code 22-11-14-2 authorizes the use of these fireworks for public displays only.
In December 2019, the permit system for fireworks moved to the Public Safety Portal. Based on both statutory language and the General Administrative Rules (GAR), each display is singular in nature and requires its own separate permit for each date/shoot. Each date/shoot also requires its own separate approval by the fire chief for that municipality, regardless of whether it is a paid or volunteer fire department.