Fireworks Sales Starting Up Again; Inspections May Fall Short

May 28, 2018

Fireworks will go on sale again in Iowa communities soon ahead of the 4th of July holiday, and the state fire marshal’s office expects the number of licensed sellers will increase by as much as 20 percent this year.   

Fire Marshal Dan Wood says many vendors went without inspection last year because of the narrow window between passage of the fireworks bill and the 4th of July holiday.  

“Last year everything got passed basically in mid-May and we had just a few weeks to implement the system, get the plans reviewed, and get out and do inspections,” Wood said. 

"I can't guarantee that every place will get inspected." -State Fire Marshall Dan Wood

But Wood says the number of vendors is expected to jump from 665 last year to as many as 800 this year, so they may still not be able to inspect them all.

“With the amount that there is the amount of staff to get out we'll do our best, but I can't guarantee that every place will get inspected,” Wood said.   “I wish they could.”

Wood says his office is working hard to approve the plans for all licensees before the permanent stands begin selling on June 1st, with temporary stands opening for business on June 13th.   Permanent stands are found in  strip malls, in unused buildings and in parts of larger retail stores.   The temporary stands are tents put up just for the holiday.

He calls the plans that vendors submit in order to be licensed “just a piece of paper.”

“Sometimes when they go to set up it doesn't always get done the way the plans say they would get done,” Wood said.  “That’s why we do inspections.” 

Wood says the inspections cover exit signs, everything having to do with egress, emergency lighting, flame breaks, fire extinguishers, display height, and aisle width. 

“This list is not all-inclusive,” Wood said. “We look at a lot.”

Wood advises fireworks buyers to check their local ordinances about when and where to set off the fireworks around Independence Day.

“When people are out there, they might want to check with their city or county,” Wood said.