spencer-fire-1931
A dropped sparkler causing a fire in Spencer, IA on June 27, 1931 contributed to a 77-year-old statewide ban on fireworks.

(Des Moines, IA) On June 27, 1931 a young boy dropped a sparkler in Spencer, IA which caused approximately $1.2 million in damages and was partially responsible for the statewide ban enacted by the Iowa Legislature six years later.  Sparklers, however, are legal in the state of Iowa.

State Senator Mark Chelgren (R-Ottumwa) would like to end that 77-year-old ban on fireworks.  He filed SF 2064 which if passed would restore local control over decisions related to fireworks sales, possessions and use.  It also earmarks sales tax collected from the purchase of fireworks for the purchase of fire equipment.  “The reason I did this was because one of my constituents who is a volunteer fire fighter said they were having a hard time raising money,” Chelgren told Caffeinated Thoughts.  “This may be a good way to raise money.”

He said communities would be free to restrict fireworks if they so choose, and communities and the Governor would have the power to also restrict sales in certain areas if conditions are not safe.

Chelgren said that feedback that he has heard is that local fire departments and police departments do not take the ban seriously and Iowans who want fireworks purchase them in South Dakota and Missouri.  By lifting the ban the state of Iowa would no longer lose out on that revenue.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on State Government.

Photo courtesy of the Parker Museum archives.

Reader Poll: Should Iowa lift its statewide fireworks ban?

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