Area Cities Issue Reminders Of Fireworks Ordinances

Mon 6-26-2017

(Spirit Lake)-- A new law in Iowa legalizing the sale of consumer grade fireworks has brought a plethora of vendors to the Iowa Great Lakes. While the new law legalized their sale, counties and cities can still regulate fireworks usage. Many area cities have opted not to amend their ordinances to make the usage of that type of fireworks legal. City Attorney-Administrator Greg Owens says that's the case in Spirit Lake, where only the novelty classification of fireworks, such as sparklers or snakes, is the only type of fireworks that can be legally used...Owens & Fireworks01 

"What we can tell them is that first class fireworks are illegal and I guarantee that everybody's that selling knows the classifications under state law that they're selling. And I will say the vendors know, the city knows, the state legislature said we're going to allow sales, and here they are. We've had nothing but cooperation from the venders in terms of trying to find out what our ordinance is. You know I think they're all trying to find out what the various cities are doing so they can be responsible to their customers." 

Owens says that while the vast majority of people caught using illegal fireworks are given warnings, that you could face a fine if you're given an actual citation...Owens & Fireworks02 

"That would be up to the judge in the event something was charged and actually found it's way that far into the system. A violation, however, is punishable by a fine of not less than $250, that's the minimum, unless it's on public property, like a city park, city streets or something like that, then the minimum fine is $500."

Owens says the city of Spirit Lake issued 9 permits to fireworks vendors. He says based on what he's been hearing, that number could be less in future years...Owens & Fireworks03 

"I've had two different companies that have permits here express that opinion, so I figure they know their business. I think they think that a lot of people will have jumped in in response to the new legislation, and the predictions I've had from those companies are that they don't expect to see the same number next year they expect it to be less, but again I guess it remains to be seen over the next week how popular they are."

Owens adds the city's ordinance allows fireworks sales in areas zoned Highway Commercial and Industrial. Fireworks sales are not allowed in the downtown area.

In Spencer, Fire Chief John Conyen issued this reminder about fireworks usage in that city...Spencer Fireworks 

"May you purchase fireworks? Yes you can. The thing we cannot have is you lighting fireworks off in the city of Spencer city limits. If you do fell that you need to light off fireworks you need to light them off outside of city limits. It is a $250 fine if you are caught lighting fireworks in this area."

The statewide ban on the sale of consumer grade fireworks that had been in place up until the last session of the Iowa Legislature was due to a large fire on June 27th, 1931 that destroyed most of downtown Spencer. It happened when a child ignited a fireworks display in a drug store.