Perry City Council amends ordinance to ban use of consumer fireworks in city limits

Allison Ullmann
Perry Chief
Fireworks light up the sky in Pattee Park on Sunday, July 4, 2021, as part of Perry's Fourth of July Celebration. The Perry City Council approved amending the city's fireworks ordinance banning the use of consumer fireworks within the city limits during the Jan. 3 meeting.

Fireworks will not be allowed to be used in Perry city limits after the Perry City Council approved amending the city’s fireworks ordinance during the Jan. 3 meeting.

After discussion by the council, city staff were directed to draft a new ordinance to include banning the use of consumer fireworks within the city limits. The city council approved the third reading of the amended ordinance on Jan. 3. 

Prior to the vote, Mayor John Andorf said while vendors will still be able to sell fireworks in town because of a state law, the amended ordinance would ban the shooting of fireworks from city limits.

Curt Hite, in his first meeting as a council member, said people will still shoot fireworks off in town.

“I almost feel like it’s an unenforceable ordinance,” he added.

Fellow council member Dean Berkland added that the city’s previous ordinance allowing fireworks to be used for one day on July 4 was unenforceable before and after that date.

“In my conversations with city managers around the state and around the metro, it’s just horrid no matter if you completely ban them or if you allow them for a certain number of days,” said City Administrator Sven Peterson. “There’s always before hours and after hours discharge and just reckless use. I think we’ll see more and more cities going the route of banning fireworks, probably in this next year.” 

Council member Chuck Schott added that banning fireworks would be impossible to enforce.

“It is ridiculous to sell fireworks and stop the use of them,” he said. “However, the state of Iowa has put us into this predicament with the laws that are on the books. To make my point clear, it’s sort of like allowing us to go buy liquor but not to drink it.”

Hite asked if there would be a solution somewhere in the middle. Allowing the use of fireworks will create issues, but Hite added that banning them won’t solve the problem.

Perry Police Chief Eric Vaughn agreed, saying they had tried to find a solution in the middle.

“We’ve tried to allow it for a day but people don’t obey that. We tried restricting it to people’s backyards or their homes, but they light them off in the streets and they light them off in our parks, they light them off in business parking lots when numerous people are around, causing damage. I think we’re to this point,” he said of banning the use of fireworks in town.

Though Peterson said the city has been proactive in its public information campaigns to educate residents about the city’s fireworks ordinance.

“Chief Vaughn takes fliers to every fireworks tent every year and they’re supposed to hand them out with every sale. Everybody that’s buying fireworks within city limits should be getting the rules,” Peterson said of the city’s previous ordinance. “Susie does a phenomenal job with social media, getting it out with email, text messages and then our media partners as well.”

Vaughn added that people need to follow the rules, whether it’s an outright ban on using fireworks or temporary usage on a certain day. 

“We still have restrictions on whether it’s fireworks the state allows us to sell or alcohol, there’s still rules that need to be followed. And unfortunately, this is where we are,” he said of the city council banning the use of consumer fireworks in city limits.

The third reading of the amended fireworks ordinance passed 3-2, with council members Berkland, Barb Wolling and Vicki Klein voting yes and Schott and Hite voting no.