A consumer fireworks bill has passed the Iowa legislature and is likely to be signed by Gov. Branstad any day. Nevada’s city officials want you to know what to expect this July 4.
Nevada officials are drafting an ordinance allowing sales and shooting fireworks during the dates and times allowed by the proposed state law. The public is encouraged to provide feedback to the ordinance. Ray Reynolds, director of Fire and EMS, said, “The state bill is written to take effect upon the governor’s signature. Cities all over Iowa are scrambling to have some type of consumer fireworks ordinance in place before the June 1 date of first allowable sales. We would have preferred more time before legalizing consumer fireworks, so the public could have real dialogue on what should or should not be allowed in our community.”
A consumer fireworks ordinance is being introduced in the City Council on May 8 to meet the June 1 deadline. The Nevada Public Safety Department strongly encourages residents to provide feedback to council members.
The Nevada Public Safety Department will focus on safety during the approval process for those selling fireworks. Another important priority will focus on enforcing the laws surrounding discharging fireworks properly. Reynolds said, “This is new to everyone, so right out of the gate we will have public education efforts for people who sell consumer fireworks and more importantly, to those who shoot consumer fireworks.” Consumer fireworks issues typically involve the storage of explosives, nuisance to neighbors and improper use, causing injuries.
Several consumer fireworks companies have already called the city in preparation for fireworks to be sold in Nevada. The state law does not allow a city to prohibit sales of fireworks.
“Iowa Fireworks Company is excited to be offering consumer-grade fireworks to Iowans all over the state and safety is going to be an important part of the sales process. As an Iowa-based company, we have an additional responsibility to educate consumers on the safest way to celebrate freedom,” said owner and founder Jeremiah Terhark. “Iowa Fireworks Company has appreciated communities like Nevada and Fire Chief Ray Reynolds being willing to get together to develop a safety sheet we can include with sales to inform the public on when, where and how to use fireworks safely.”
Reynolds adds, “As a fire official who has dedicated my career to preventing fires and injuries, this state law is personally not something I would endorse. As a public official, I am tasked with following legislative intent, but to do so with the utmost of safety allowable. This ordinance helps me sleep a little better at night.”
Key points of the Nevada Consumer fireworks ordinance:
• Consumer fireworks can only be discharged on the person’s own property or property where consent has been given.
• Shooting consumer fireworks can occur from June 1 to July 8 and Dec. 10-Jan. 3 from the hours of 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Hours are extended to 11 p.m. on July 4 and 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 1 (New Year’s Eve).
• Persons under the age of 18 may not shoot consumer fireworks unless supervised by an adult. No person who is intoxicated or otherwise impaired may purchase or discharge consumer fireworks.
• Anyone who shoots consumer fireworks is responsible for its use.
• Fines will be set by council for any person shooting fireworks in violation of the ordinance.
• Persons engaged in the sale of consumer fireworks must be licensed by the state fire marshal and carry $2 million in liability insurance.
• All sales locations must be inspected prior to sales commencing.
“We want people to be safe and not take consumer fireworks for granted. Safe operation of fireworks may prevent serious injury or death.” According to Reynolds, “Careless and reckless use of consumer fireworks will not be tolerated, and people violating the ordinance can expect a costly fine. Be a good neighbor so your Fourth of July won’t be ruined.”