In an effort to limit consumer use of fireworks this year, Davenport City Council will consider shortening the window that residents can legally set off by four hours.
But, some are not convinced that reducing the time allowed on July 3 and 4 will deter anyone from setting them off illegally in the weeks before and after, and may confuse or alienate residents who set off fireworks in prescribed hours.
Currently, Davenport allows fireworks to be set off for consumers from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. on July 3 and 4. The city plans to change that window to 5-10 p.m. on both days. Davenport aldermen will vote on the change at the 5:30 p.m. council meeting on Wednesday, May 25 at City Hall.
Davenport city officials warned residents earlier this month that the city could see more fireworks tents, sales and use due to a new Iowa law preventing cities to limit vendors to certain areas. As of 2018, temporary fireworks vendors in Davenport were restricted to industrial areas. The new law removes this restriction.
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To offset potentially more noise and a greater risk of injury, as consumer fireworks will likely become more accessible this summer, Ward 6 Alderman Ben Jobgen proposed that the city reduce the window of time during which Consumer fireworks could legally be set off in Davenport.
“It’s kind of like the psychology I use with my kids when I feed them vegetables. I give them twice as much as I want them to eat, so when they complained about how much I they had and I said ‘Okay, you just have to eat half’, so the battle was won in that regard,” Jobgen said.
“So, you know, we know that if we allow legal release at 11 p.m., they’re going to extend until midnight, 12:30 a.m. or 1 a.m. and my thinking was, ‘OK, if we shorten that window, let’s- Are we modeling enough behavior to hopefully discourage people from setting off fireworks this late? »
But, Jobgen said, he had discussed with fire and police departments the difficulty of enforcing fireworks ordinances – officers have to witness people actually setting fireworks outside. city-mandated hours in order to issue a citation, Fire Marshal Jim Morris mentioned.
Last summer, Davenport enlisted 10 civilian observers and issued 13 fireworks citations, according to Morris. According to a request for documents, the city issued 10 citations between June 1 and July 8.
The city responded to 700 fireworks-related calls during that time, according to Morris, a sharp drop from more than 1,130 fireworks complaints received by police during the same period in 2020.
“It looks like there will be administrative challenges to applying correctly, and maybe we’ll send the wrong message to our constituents if we shorten that window,” Jobgen said. “So again, I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do.”
Last year, Davenport sent postcards to every household in Davenport outlining the times when fireworks could legally be set off within city limits, educating on the safe use of fireworks, and warning residents from potential fines for illegal dumping. A first offense can cost up to $400, including court costs.
City officials said aldermen need to make a decision quickly on whether to reduce the legal discharge window in order to send the postcards again with specific times by the start of the sales season of fireworks on June 1.
“The more time we have to communicate, the more successful we will be in our communications,” said city administrator Corri Spiegel.
In Iowa, permanent buildings — there’s one in Davenport — can sell between June 1 and July 8. Temporary structures like tents start later on June 13.
Alderman Kyle Gripp at large called the fireworks a “nuisance” in Davenport, but argued that shortening the legal discharge window would not prevent actors acting in bad faith.
“But the issue really isn’t that the fireworks go off on July 4 or July 3, it’s the three weeks before them,” Gripp said. “It’s the next three weeks and cutting the time by three hours on the third and fourth won’t reduce the annoyance of the fireworks.”
Opponents of consumer fireworks sales, legalized in 2017 – and separate from licensed professional displays – say the loud booms scare pets and young children, and can harm people with post-stress stress disorder. traumatic, as well as could be a cause of accidental injury for those who illuminate them.
Photos: Crossroads Fireworks Quad Cities