Don’t get burned by firecrackers

James Heggen

Ames Police Cmdr. Jim Robinson said it is not illegal to merely posses fireworks, however, it is illegal to set them off and discharge them.

Robinson said individuals who are suspected of setting off fireworks can either be given a warning or given a citation. However, it depends on the situation as to which the person receives either the warning or citation.

“It’s at the officer’s discretion,” he said.

A citation for setting off fireworks can cost an individual as much as $500, Robinson said. However, he said he had never seen a fine of that amount.

Robinson also said if it has been determined that fireworks have been discharged, the officer will confiscate the rest of those fireworks.

As for the time of year leading up to the Fourth of July, Robinson said the police department does get more complaints than usual.

Robinson said it is possible to obtain a permit to set off fireworks legally, and it can be done through the city, where it is required to file a request. Civic groups are usually the ones who file these requests.

State law requires the permit to be approved by the city council, said Karen Thompson, secretary for the city clerk.

“I would say all could be eligible,” she said.

However, it is usually just groups that are given the permit, such as the group that puts on the Fourth of July fireworks display in Ames.

Thompson said the amount of permits the city gives out depends on the year. Permits do not increase during the Fourth of July compared with the rest of the year, because Ames only has one display during the holiday.

Thompson said the city does not have a limit on how many permits can be given out, but the city does not like to disturb the public, so it tries to keep them at a minimum to accomplish that.

As for how long these permits last, Thompson said they can only be used on an approved date. However, many include a rain-out day and sometimes multiple days can be issued.

When deciding who can have a permit, the fire inspector must approve the event and many times the cities work with Iowa State in cases where the event is on or close to ISU property.