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Fireworks Now Legal But Still Hard to Find in Iowa

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Purchasing fireworks is now legal in the state of Iowa but finding a place that sells them is another issue.

The reason for the lack of sellers is that the Fire Marshal’s Office just released the applications for sale licences on Thursday.

Over the last month, metro cities have hustled to put together a comprehensive plan for fireworks. It’s been a struggle because each city has it’s own interpretation of the law. Especially when it comes to where fireworks can be sold.

“At the same time we made it very clear they can’t restrict the sale of fireworks,” said Iowa State Sen. Jake Chapman.

He’s responding to what cities are doing across the metro with fireworks. Places, like West Des Moines and most likely Ankeny, will only allow fireworks to be sold in industrial zoned areas, which to him is illegal.

We wanted to get another perspective on this so we met with the Iowa Fire Marshal. He’s not surprised cities are struggling because two months is a very short amount of time to write and approve new rules for anyone.

“We took a program that normally takes 6-9 months, in a perfect world, to adopt administrative rules with no hiccups. We’ve put it together in 8 weeks,” said Jeff Quigle, State Fire Marshal.  

Quigle is aware that zoning the sale of fireworks to industrial zone only is in contradiction of the law but if a retailer comes to him, he wants to stay out of it.

“We would probably defer it the city or county attorney, if there was an issue with any type of zoning,” said Quigle.

He knows people will be confused by that statement because they are in charge regulating state fire law. But with most code violations, that happen in bigger cities, he says it is common practice for them to defer.

“The large metropolitan areas, they conduct everything because they have people just like us at the fire department. So, we usually do leave those types of things and issues to the local authorities,” said Quigle.

For now, his office will focus on the 60-plus applications for sale licences that came in Thursday. None of which are in the metro. He expects some stands to open this weekend and many more to open June 13th.