Nevada Fire Chief Ray Reynolds spoke to City Council members Monday about the new state law allowing the sale and use of fireworks in Iowa. Reynolds shared that he also had written a press release about what Nevada is doing on this matter (which you will also see in this issue of the Nevada Journal) and in that release, he has asked residents to share feedback about the city ordinance concerning this matter that has been drafted.

On Monday, the council approved a first reading of the new ordinance that “regulates the sale, use or explosive of fireworks within the city.”

Reynolds started by stating that he is not in favor of fireworks in any manner. “I wanted to go on record with that,” he said.

However, Reynolds, along with Public Safety Director Ric Martinez, after hours of discussion on the matter, and reading up on what others have been saying on police chief and fire chief blogs in the state, decided that if the governor is signing into law that Iowa will now legalize the sale and use of fireworks, they will abide and set up the best safety precautions they can.

Also, even though cities do not need to allow the discharging of fireworks within city limits, the fire chief believes that with the sale of them being legal, they will allow them to be discharged, as long as people follow a strict set of rules in doing so.

“There are safety provisions that I feel comfortable with (written into the ordinance),” Reynolds said. “This is a 60-day period that people are allowed to sell and discharge fireworks.” He said there are three components of dealing with fireworks that must be addressed: safe storage, nuisance issues and safety.

In presenting the ordinance to the council, Reynolds talked about the inspection procedures that will be in place for sellers of fireworks, who are expected to mostly sell from temporary structures.

“The biggest thing is, they need to know that there’s a lot of money potentially (in selling fireworks), but there’s the other side — you are going to have to be responsible,” he said. Some of the rules that sellers with temporary structures will have to follow will include things like no lighters being visible in their structure and keeping all fireworks in original, fire-resistant packaging. There also can be no intoxicated people inside the structures, and people can also be fined for discharging fireworks if they’re intoxicated.

The city ordinance outlines fines for people who do not follow the laws and rules when it comes to fireworks. And those fines are going to be significant enough, Reynolds said, to make people want to comply.

Some of the safety procedures and rules that are in place, include that you can only discharge fireworks on your own property, not public property; no minors can discharge fireworks without adult supervision; no minors can purchase fireworks; you cannot be reckless with fireworks as you are responsible for everything that happens with that firework once discharged; etc.

Sheets with this type of information, Reynolds said, will be printed out and it is city officials’ hope to have these handed out by sellers with every fireworks sale in Nevada.

City Councilman Brian Hanson said at first he thought the ability to have fireworks seemed like a neat thing. But then he started to think about the problems that could occur and the burden that might be for the local volunteer fire department. “Have we thought about a fee schedule that says … you caught your brush pile on fire, and fire trucks had to roll (especially if it’s during other important activities the fire department might be needed at, like the city fireworks display) … Have we thought about that,” he asked.

“If people are being reckless, at what point do the rest of us have to (pay for that as taxpayers),” he said.

Reynolds said the biggest concerns of city officials are injury and property damage. Read more about this issue in the Public Safety Department’s press release in this issue of the Nevada Journal.