State Fire Marshal Urges ‘Safety First’ as Hundreds of Retail Licenses are Issued for Sale of Fireworks

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GRIMES, Iowa -- As of Wednesday Morning, more than 525 retail licenses had been issued for the sale of consumer fireworks in Iowa. And now that Iowans are able to buy consumer fireworks across the state, the State Fire Marshal's Office wants to urge everyone to think "safety first."

Thanks to a new state law, all kinds of new fireworks are arriving in Iowa, and Iowans are able to buy them at tents like the one in the parking lot of the Walmart in Grimes.

"I think it`s cool," said Nicholas Axtman of West Des Moines. "I grew up in South Dakota where it`s legal there. I think it will be good for the community as well, bring more money in, instead of people going out of state to buy things," said Axtman.

Companies like TNT Fireworks are more than ready to give people lots of options.

"We have aerial fireworks, we have the fountain fireworks, of course your little fireworks that you get, your little poppers, you know that the kids like and stuff...sparklers, pretty much anything you`d have to go to Missouri normally to go find," said Jeff Lindquist, Site Manager for TNT Fireworks.

But not everyone sees the change as a good thing.

"As a grandmother and a mother, I don`t feel very safe about it," said Vallerie Lawshe of West Des Moines. Lawshe does not like the idea of fireworks being sold out of a tent in a Walmart parking lot.

"I think it should be in a more structured area," said Lawshe. "This is a family store, and I would think that they would have to have their own type of business, just not sell out of a covered tent, because some of that stuff is pretty dangerous."

The State Fire Marshal's Office acknowledges that danger.

"The amount of explosives you have there, if it were to set off, you know, it could affect people, cars, buildings, and that`s what we`re trying to prevent, with our inspections, with our licensing process," said Dan Wood, Acting Special Agent in Charge at the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

And Wood says that's why there are regulations.

"They`re required to have fire extinguishers, storage is required to be so far away, parking is required to be at least ten feet away, so you have that buffer between parked cars, so just those safety things built into the code that allow them to sell them safely, hopefully."