An interesting discussion at Nevada’s City Council meeting Monday had to do with how fireworks went this year, both in Nevada and around the state.
Nevada Fire Chief Ray Reynolds first commended the council on how they reduced the time for discharge from last year. “By and large, we had really minor issues or complaints,” he said. But around the state, there have been a number of serious issues. In fact, Reynolds said, there were a number of injuries in the state, one resulting in death (see information box).
The biggest issue Reynolds is hearing about, however, is the temporary sales tents for fireworks. He said Denison did a sting and found half the tents were selling to minors. In Nevada, the tent sales created a troublesome parking situation at Fareway. Reynolds said, “The layout of how the tent was set up did not match the plans that were submitted and approved by the State Fire Marshal.” A worker in the tent was also cited for parking too close to the tent, but after being served by fire marshal orders to comply, the operator did the same thing again after the agent left.
Despite the mandatory sales provisions in Iowa, “the real issue is people are getting injured because of fireworks exploding,” Reynolds said. And to make it worse, the state is considering no inspections of these sites in the future, he said. “The state agent who inspected the Nevada site had 40 complaints to handle for the day. I just wonder what kind of compliance the industry will have when the state is tasked with another mandate for an agency already short-staffed?”
As far as the shooting of fireworks, “We were seeing that improve this year,” Reynolds said, “The sheer volume of fireworks heard last year wasn’t what we heard this year.”
The standard used to govern fireworks in Iowa is the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 1124, Code for the Manufacture, Transportation, and Storage of Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles 2006 edition. “Nowhere in this code is there any mention of applying this standard to retail sales, let alone this code is 12 years old,” said Reynolds. “The state missed the mark on this legislation and people’s lives are changing by the numbers of fires and injuries occurring by fireworks. Reynolds will provide the statewide look at fireworks incidents for the council to view in the near future.
Reynolds hopes the League of Cities will discuss the matter and push back on this in the coming year. He believes local communities need more say in the safe operation and sales of fireworks if they must continue in the state. “I am pleased there were no injuries or fires in our community from fireworks. Not many cities can say that.”
In other news:
• The city passed an ordinance to allow temporary vendors in Nevada on July 25 for RABGRAI riders passing through town. Shawn Cole said about eight to 10 vendors have indicated they will put up stands. City Administrator Matt Mardesen said Lincoln Way will close around 6 a.m. that morning.
• The city set a public hearing for the Aug. 13 meeting at 6 p.m. to approve another 20 years with Alliant Energy as the natural gas and electric franchise for the city. Anyone who wishes to speak to this matter can come to that meeting to make comments.
• Melissa Johnson of Midwest Insurance gave a rundown on insurance for the city during the recent fiscal year. One highlight, she said, is a 5 percent decrease overall in property insurance, thanks to the recently attained highest service rating of the Nevada Fire Department. It’s a savings of $4,600 for the city and will should be a savings to all property owners in Nevada on insurance.
• A public meeting on the downtown improvements project for 2020 is coming up Thursday, July 19, at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. Notices of the meeting are being sent to property owners and businesses. The meeting will give everyone an idea of what lies ahead in this huge project.
• Fire Chief Reynolds commented that the concrete work at the fire station is going well. He said it involves shuffling trucks around a little during the process, but he said Calvin’s Concrete has been great to work with on it.
• Library Director Shanna Spear said three new student employees have been hired and will begin training at the library next week. She also noted that the library will be open early on July 25 for RAGBRAI riders who wish to stop in. Library Friends members have volunteered to help that day.
• City Clerk Kerin Wright noted it had been a challenging period, as a financial server crashed last week. “Luckily we do a backup every night and have i-Drive, so a data tech was able to come in and we were able to finish payroll.” She said new drives are up now and it doesn’t appear the city lost any information.
• City Engineer Larry Stevens said rain has pushed back the Lincoln Highway/Airport Road intersection project.