Cedar Rapids public safety committee recommends banning the use of fireworks

In this Friday, June 16, 2017 photo, fireworks for sale are seen on display in an Iowa Fireworks Company tent, in Adel, Iowa. Decades after a devastating fire caused by a dropped sparkler led Iowa to ban fireworks, the explosives are now legal in the state. But fireworks retailers and people eager to set off the explosives are finding that many local officials remain keenly aware of that fire so many years ago. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Cedar Rapids Public Safety & Youth Services Committee is recommending that the city ban the use of consumer fireworks in Cedar Rapids.

Last legislative session, the sale and use of consumer fireworks was signed into law, legalizing them between June 1 and July 8, as well as between December 10 and January 3.

The recommendation comes after a spike in noise complaints and building fires took place when the use of fireworks was legalized between June 1 and July 8. Three fires were caused by fireworks, and 21 injuries were reported as a result of fireworks use in Cedar Rapids.

There were also four times as many police calls for service during illegal hours in 2017 compared to 2016, making up a majority of the complaints related to fireworks. 33 of those calls were for reported shots fired, but ended up being fireworks. Conversely, there were two shooting incidents that were not called in because they thought they were just fireworks.

Authorities also identified 17 retailers that were selling fireworks without a permit.

The Cedar Rapids Public Safety & Youth Services Committee recommended banning the use of fireworks because it makes it easier to enforce the law uniformly, and because many densely populated cities ban fireworks despite being legal in their state. They also recommended hiring back teams of police officers to address fireworks complaints during peak usage.

The city can not outright ban the sale of fireworks, but will also look into restricting sales to industrial-zoned properties.

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