Fireworks may face more rules

Posted July 9, 2014 at 9:28 pm

By Steve Peterson

Two fireworks shows gained permits in unincorporated portions of Plymouth County by supervisors at their July 1 meeting but rules may be changing in future years. Votes on both requests were unanimous.

The requests were from Barbara Anfinson of rural Hinton for a July 4 or 5 show and Jim Heidesch of Meadow Township off Shamrock Avenue for a July 4 display.

“There have been no problems in the past, but do we check where the fireworks are shot and if they are done by trained individuals. The code says displays are more for groups and municipalities rather than individuals,” said Supervisor Jack Guenthner.

Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper agreed with Guenthner that the code does not allow for individuals to display fireworks.

“There has to be 70 feet from the fireworks display for every one inch of shell – that is how we plan fireworks at the fairgrounds. There has to be a competent shooter, if anyone is checking on if they have fireworks’ training.

“In the future it behoves the county, liability-wise, to make sure those distances are met and to make sure that there is a competent shooter and insurance and you require insurance. You can get some pretty big shells. If the county issues a permit for a show at a farm, and someone gets hurt, someone may come back and say, ‘you issued the permit.’ Who checked on it to make sure that the distances are right or that there is a competent shooter. The code states that this for groups with competent shooters, not necessarily individuals,” said Schipper.

“Accidents have happened in other counties,” said Schipper.

“We have some good people out there that are very conscientious about what they do and we thank them for filing out the forms because most people just shoot the fireworks,” said Schipper.

Schipper said future rules could be earlier notification so that fire chiefs could be informed and knowing where the shells for fireworks are stored.

Iowa law regarding fireworks was not changed in the previous session but could be in the future, the Le Mars fire chief said.

“I do see in the future that fireworks law changing. The only things legal are snakes, sparklers and caps,” said Schipper.

“Plymouth County has a history in the present law, which dates from a 1936 fire in Remsen and another in Northwest Iowa, in Spencer, in 1931,” the chief said, adding the present law has been on the books since 1938.

“I commend the people who do fill out the paperwork and get it turned in,” said Supervisor Craig Anderson.

In another matter, Schipper said that the Plymouth County Fire Chiefs Association appreciate the $5,000 county approved allocation of Local Option Sales Tax for gear for Le Mars Fire and Rescue. Le Mars now covers part of Oyens fire district and Merrill. “We’re putting more wear and tear on our equipment and anything helps,” said Schipper.

In other county business, the supervisors:

Flood relief

Regarding flood relief efforts, County Engineer Tom Rohe explained that Iowa Department of Homeland Security as well as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been to the county on June 27 for damage assessments.

“We’re working to get debris removed within 30 days,” said Rohe. “We were fortunate. We’re keeping track of the hours.”

Supervisor Don Kass said Mid-Sioux Opportunity of Remsen can assist those impacted by flood costs.

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