DES MOINES, Iowa -- The State Fire Marshal has now issued 31 retail licenses to sell fireworks, and an additional 253 licenses are in the process.
“The number of licenses issued increased this week, because we have been able to issue licenses for many small retail-sale sites in larger stores throughout the state,” said Fire Marshal Jeff Quigle. “We have developed a licensing process for these small-scale sites that allows us to provide faster review. Many Iowans will be able to see these fireworks sites in their communities very soon.”
“Our office has found that site plan reviews for permanent structures are requiring more time than we had anticipated,” said Fire Marshal Quigle. “The requirements for permanent sites are more complex, mainly because the public safety risks involved are significantly higher. We appreciate that the legislation has made safety a top priority, and of course, we share in that concern. We will not compromise safety, but we are looking for ways to speed up our processes without increasing the safety risks,” he said. “Our staff will spend time in the office this weekend to work again,” Quigle said.
The Fire Marshal’s office established the licensing program in a matter of weeks, and has made multiple adaptations to the online licensing process to accommodate the many requests for licensing. Initially, it appeared that more than 1200 individuals planned to request licenses. But to date, only 297 applications have been entered in the system, and of those 48 were started and not completed. Only ten of the applications have been rejected as a result of critical deficiencies. Another 11 were reviewed and corrections were requested and an additional 13 applications were incomplete.
The Iowa Fire Marshal will make several changes to the website to provide additional information about the licensing program. The Fire Marshal’s office also has provided information to law enforcement officials and prosecutors regarding criminal violations, and to local fire services regarding the licensing program.
“We appreciate the assistance from local fire departments, because they are conducting inspections for potential licensees, and just as importantly, they are talking with their communities about the safe use and handling of fireworks,” Fire Marshal Quigle said. “Iowans need to remember that fireworks are explosives, and must be handled carefully. Just as we keep matches away from our children, we must be sure to keep dangerous fireworks away from them. Everyone who enjoys fireworks in Iowa also has a responsibility to keep themselves and those around them safe. Our partners in local fire departments are sharing these same messages. We want this Fourth of July holiday to be both happy and safe,” he said.
Background on Fireworks in Iowa
Sales of consumer fireworks are allowed between June 1 and July 8 each year, and from December 10 to January 3. Temporary stands can be used for consumer fireworks sales between June 13 and July 8.
The online portal allows fireworks wholesalers to register in Iowa, so that they can provide consumer fireworks to retail sellers. Information about the licensing and registration appears online: http://www.dps.state.ia.us/fm/building/licensing/consumerfireworksindex.shtml
The online licensing and registration program implements Senate File 489, which was signed into law on May 9, 2017. The new law allows for the sale of consumer fireworks by persons or companies licensed by the State Fire Marshal. Any restrictions on the use of fireworks are determined by city and county officials. Emergency Administrative Rules are available online: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/law/administrativeRules/emergencyDocs
Consumer fireworks include such things as roman candles, bottle rockets, firecrackers, and ground spinners. Previously, the only fireworks that were legal in Iowa were novelties such as sparklers, caps and snakes. Iowa joins 43 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing the sale of consumer fireworks.
Display fireworks are the pyrotechnics that municipalities and businesses use for large-scale public displays – require licensed operators to discharge the fireworks show. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms regulates the use of display fireworks. City and county officials also may restrict or prohibit the use of display fireworks.