DES MOINES, Iowa -- Licensed fireworks sales are underway across Iowa in 430 temporary and permanent sites, with more being added every day. As firework sales increase, the State Fire Marshal is providing some practical safety tips for Iowans who want to use fireworks.
“Iowans should understand that fireworks must be handled responsibly,” said Fire Marshal Jeff Quigle. “These are pyro-chemical devices designed to explode or burn. Anyone who uses them must respect the damage that they can do, to those who are using the fireworks and to others within range of the device. We thank our local fire service partners for sharing in our focus on safety, and we appreciate the many responsible fireworks sellers who provide excellent guidance to make the use of their fireworks safer.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provides annual reports on many types of injuries, including fireworks. The latest report, based on 2015 statistics, shows that nearly half of the injuries affected individuals under age 20, and young adults between 15 and 19 were at greatest risk of injuries treated in emergency rooms. Many of the injuries resulted from the use of sparklers, bottle rockets and small firecrackers.
“These statistics show that everyone must be careful in using fireworks and novelties,” State Fire Marshal Quigle said. “We have not had fireworks sold legally in Iowa for many decades. This means that many Iowans may not be familiar with fireworks, and may not have developed the important safety habits that will help us to avoid injuries,” Fire Marshal Quigle said. “The legislature wrote our statute to provide safety standards for the licensees who are selling the products, and that is a very important first step. But the individuals who are using the fireworks also need to take a responsible approach.”
The latest CPSC report is online: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/Fireworks_Report_2015FINALCLEARED_0.pdf?2M9KQg40aQyjI_0M.o0KLZOZFGEvGnA7
Some quick tips from the State Fire Marshal to increase safety:
- Know what your firework will do. Is it designed to explode? launch? display? What safety zone is required, to keep others out of range when the firework does go off? Do not take chances with the safety of other people or buildings that could be within range when you set off the firework.
- Do not hold fireworks in your hand or misuse them. If the fireworks are designed to sit on the ground and make a shower of sparks, or if they are designed to launch or explode, do not hold them in your hand or point them at another person or building. The fireworks may explode or go in a different direction than intended, causing injury or damage.
- Use safety glasses to protect your eyes. Most fireworks have some impact that can affect your eyes. If you are the one setting off the firework, wear glasses to protect your eyes.
- Never try to re-light a dud. A dud is a defective unexploded device, or to put it another way, a dangerous unexploded device. If the firework does not go off on the first try, do not try to light it again.
- Have water or fire extinguishers close by. If the firework performs unexpectedly, or if it sets the grass or other items on fire, be ready with water or a fire extinguisher. Delays in responding to fire can increase the harm to individuals and property. When you retrieve the remnants of the firework, handle them carefully and place them in water when they are cool enough to handle. Use thick gloves to pick up the remnants, to better protect yourself from burns.
- Talk with your neighbors before setting off fireworks. If the firework does not work the way you anticipated, it can affect your neighbors’ safety and property. Be aware of the impact of fireworks on pets, and on your neighbors who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other conditions that upset them with unexpected loud noises.
- Follow the law. Never use illegal fireworks, like M-80s, which have much higher levels of pyro-chemical material and can cause far more serious injuries. Cities and counties can restrict or ban the use of fireworks, even though they are legal to buy. These laws also may limit the days or hours when fireworks can be used.
“We want everyone in our state to have a happy, safe celebration of the Fourth of July,” Fire Marshal Quigle said. “Using common sense and recognizing the need to use fireworks responsibly is the best way to meet that goal.”
Your local fire department can provide additional guidance regarding fireworks safety. General safety information is available on the State Fire Marshal’s website: http://www.dps.state.ia.us/fm/building/licensing/consumerfireworksindex.shtml
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 Fire Marshal’s web page includes a list of licensed fireworks sellers.
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.