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July 31, 2013
Fireworks alternative made final

Beginning August 15, 2013, companies that manufacture, import, and transport Division 1.4G consumer fireworks will have an alternative avenue to having their products classed and approved for transportation into, out of, and throughout the United States.

Specifically, in a final rule, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is allowing companies to obtain the needed Department of Transportation (DOT) certification either from PHMSA or from a DOT-approved fireworks certification agency (FCA). 

Small-business burden

Currently, PHMSA needs an average of 120 days to complete review of an application for a DOT classification approval number (called an EX number) for consumer fireworks.  This places considerable business pressure on the small companies who dominate the fireworks business, since delays in fireworks approvals can increase storage costs and constrain a company’s ability to introduce new products in a seasonal market. 

PHMSA believes the voluntary alternative will significantly expedite approvals and that 50 percent to 90 percent of U.S. businesses selling consumer fireworks will take advantage of the option.  The proposal parallels other actions PHMSA has taken to authorize third parties to approve designs of flame-producing lighters and evaluate and certify cylinder manufacturers. 

Requirements for FCAs

The final rule establishes requirements an applicant must meet to be an FCA.  These include being a U.S. citizen or having a U.S. agent that meets specific qualifications, employing personnel with work experience in manufacturing or testing of Division 1.4G consumer fireworks, and having the ability to review design drawings and applications to certify that these are in accordance with the APA Standard 87-1 and verify thermal stability test procedures and results.

In its proposal, PHMSA said the FCA would also be required to physically examine a sample of the Division 1.4G consumer firework before initial shipment to determine whether the device meets the requirements of APA Standard 87-1 and matches the dimensions, chemical composition, and device type specified in the application for certification.  Industry commented that this requirement added a layer of complexity not present in the current PHMSA review process.  PHMSA agreed.  Accordingly, in the final rule, PHMSA excluded the requirement that FCAs physically examine a firework.  This ensures that the FCA and PHMSA application review processes parallel one another, says PHMSA.

However, PHMSA is requiring the FCA to submit standard operating procedures with their approval application, which PHMSA says it will review to ensure that each FCA is capable of performing review and certification that is equivalent to the current PHMSA approval process.  Although not explicitly stated, it is expected these procedures would include an FCA’s proposed manner of handling denials and rejections of manufacturer application requests.  Furthermore, as the FCA certification process is designed to parallel the current approvals process, PHMSA anticipates that denial and reconsideration procedures would be analogous to those provided for DOT-issued approvals.

To provide oversight of the FCAs, PHMSA’s rule requires that the FCAs meet reporting and recordkeeping requirements.        

Definition

Also, the final action includes the following definition for consumer firework:

“Any completed firework device that is packaged in a form intended for use by the public that complies with the construction, performance, chemical composition, and labeling requirements codified by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in Title 16, CFR Parts 1500 and 1507. A consumer firework does not include firework devices, kits, or components banned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 16 CFR 1500.17(a)(8).”

PHMSA’s final revisions of its fireworks regulations were published in the July 16, 2013, FR.

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