By Tian Liu
With Christmas approaching, the second legal period for firework sales in Iowa City will soon begin. Starting Dec. 10, people will be able to buy fireworks again.
Despite the sales legalized by the Iowa Legislature statewide, the Iowa City City Council restricted fireworks sales to industrial zones during the period, City Manager Geoff Fruin said.
From June 1 to July 8, he said, the sale of fireworks, but not the use, was allowed in Iowa City without restriction. The City Council decided to add the restriction now that fireworks may be sold again for a short period of time.
“There were a number of public complaints about people using fireworks illegally inside the city limits,” Fruin said. “It certainly put a strain on our police force and creates a lot of neighborhood disruptions.”
Fruin also said the law allows the sale of the fireworks but leaves a space for the city to ban the use of fireworks.
“So you can purchase fireworks at any vendor in Iowa City. But you have to use them in a community that allows fireworks,” Fruin said. “You cannot use them within the city limits. You will risk being fined.”
In order to issue a violation, Fruin said, there needs to be an observation made by a police officer or a witness testimony.
“A lot of our fire calls are caller-given,” Scott Gaarde, the public-information officer for the Iowa City police said. “Neighbors, community officers would notify us an incident is occurring. That certainly helps.”
Gaarde said this might because last time, officials took an education approach, and the police certainly had numerous call for services. They also put effort into notifying people of the laws and the exception to get into the law.
“[During] the first [period of firework sales] in July, the police posted the situation very much trying to educate the public and let them know fireworks were illegal within the city limits despite the sale being available,” Fruin said. “This time around, there will be fewer opportunities for education, there will be more citations written if we do have problems with the community.”
A violator caught by the police could face a fine of $250 to $650 for violating the ordinance.
Kathleen Romanowski, a University of Iowa clinical assistant professor in the Burn Treatment Center, warned people that a wide variety of injuries could occur because of misusing fireworks, including burn injuries, brain injuries, and eye injuries.
Her advice for people to reduce the risk is to not use fireworks. If an accident happens, she said, stopping the burning is most important. The second step is to use cool water or room-temperature water to wash out the area to make sure the burning process is actually stopped. Then the person should seek medical treatment.