City reminds citizens of fireworks laws

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


As fireworks tents crop up around Iowa, Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson reminds residents there are limitations as to what can be shot off and when.

Washington ordinances only allow fireworks to be shot off on July 3, the Fourth of July and on New Year?s Day. Also, the ordinance bans the use of sky lanterns and mortars in the city and fireworks are only supposed to be used on private property.

Last year the State Legislature voted to lift a sale ban on fireworks, which had prevously banned the sales of most fireworks. However, lifting the ban in May 2017 left many municipalities, like Washington, struggling to pass comprehensive ordinances as the city council did not have a lot of time to study the issue.

?We didn?t have any time to react to it,? Hinson said. ?It was a terrible way to do policy and cities got put in a very bad position last year.?

At that time, the city?s fireworks ordinance allowed items to be used 11 days during the year, but city officials and residents heard fireworks going for much longer than the approved 11 days.

Hinson believes that because the ban had just been lifted people in Washington celebrated by shooting off an ?outrageous amount? of fireworks.

After the Fourth of July last year, many citizens approached the city council asking fireworks be banned altogether. Others, however, asked the city keep the policy as is. Allowing fireworks for three days was the compromise the council agreed upon.

Hinson is hopeful residents will not be shooting off ?outrageous amounts? this year as the ordinance has changed and the ability to shoot off fireworks is no longer new.

Shooting off fireworks before or after the approved time could result in a fine from the police department.

At this time, there is at least one vendor selling fireworks in Washington. They will be located at the fairgrounds.