The West Burlington City Council is revamping the city's rules regarding fireworks in response to state lawmakers legalizing the sale, purchase and use of "consumer fireworks" in Iowa. Consumer fireworks include bottle rockets, roman candles, and firecrackers.
City Administrator Dan Gifford said West Burlington did not want to simply ban the use of fireworks within the city, a move that would be permitted under the new state law. Instead, he said Fire Chief Shaun Ryan developed a plan that combines public safety with personal freedom.
“We are just trying to be safe and let people have as much fun as possible without disturbing your neighbor,” said Gifford.
The proposal under consideration by the city council would allow the use of fireworks on your own property. You could only use fireworks on someone else's property with their permission. And the fireworks could not be used if there is an occupied structure within 150 feet.
Aldermen acknowledged Wednesday night (May 17) that that provision would essentially limit the ability of residents to use the fireworks within most neighborhoods.
Ryan said his proposal is based on recommendations from the Iowa State Fire Marshall's Office, the city of Nevada, Iowa, the new state law, and existing fire and building codes.
“These are based off of the best interest of public safety to prevent injuries and property loss from accidental discharge,” said Ryan.
The new state law signed this month by Gov. Terry Branstad allows for the use of fireworks from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. between June 1 and July 8 and again between December 10 and January 3. Extended usage would be allowed around the Independence Day and New Year's Eve holidays.
Ryan said those dates are included in West Burlington's proposal.
“There’s been a lot of discussion as I noted in previous council meetings with fire chiefs around the state,” Ryan said about the speed and timing of the new law. “It kind of left us scrambling a bit. It was rushed upon us this year and we did not have a lot of time. Unfortunately, in turn, it is rushed upon you and that is not the intention."
Gifford said the city has already been contacted by companies interested in selling fireworks within city limits. He said that would be allowed as long as they have the proper state and local permits and the city has signed off on the potential location.
Aldermen could finalize the new fireworks rules next month.