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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Iowa Fireworks Law

When it comes to consumer fireworks, it is important to know the restrictions and city limits for which they are legally allowed to happen. Not adhering to a state or county's legal restrictions or regulations on fireworks could result in fines or charges such as a simple misdemeanor.

Legal vs Non-Legal Fireworks

Legal vs Non-Legal Fireworks

Despite the sale of fireworks from legal tenders, not all items that are sold or available for sale to residents are legal. Some illegal fireworks still manage to find their way into the hands of those who may not know the restrictions or ban on certain fireworks.

Examples of Legal Fireworks

When you visit a seller for consumer fireworks, make sure that you are purchasing ones that are legal. A few legal fireworks that one can purchase include:

  • Chasers

  • Helicopters

  • Firecrackers

  • Roman Candles

  • Cone Fountains

These are a few of the fireworks that are within regulations for sale and consumer use.

Examples of Non-Legal Fireworks

Prohibited or non-legal fireworks are anything that does not have a warning label, and that may exceed the amount of powder to work.

Examples of non-legal fireworks that could get one in trouble include:

  • Cherry Bombs

  • Aerial Bombs

  • Reloadable fireworks

Non-legal fireworks can cause a fire or damage to property.

For the most part, non-legal fireworks can't be easily purchased; however, that does not mean they aren't accessible to someone who isn't aware or informed.

Can I Light Fireworks Anywhere?

Depending on your location, certain cities have varying laws and regulations. In Iowa, there may be a city such as Des Moines that doesn't allow fireworks to be purchased but may put on a public display for July 4 or New Year's Eve.

There are then Altoona, Iowa, a city that allows fireworks to not only be sold for private use but that they may also put on a public display sometime in June, July 3, and July 4, depending on the city.

What Are the Limitations?

Typically, when it comes to display fireworks, these are done solely on one's private property. Consumer fireworks are not designed to be used for public displays; those require a different caliber, as well as proper regulations, need to be met.

When you visit those permanent structures that sell fireworks in Iowa, they typically have an understanding of when and where you can't have them used.

There may be instances where other temporary structures may be used to sell fireworks for June, July 3, or July 4, and again, they would know which city can and can't have fireworks.

Cities That' Don't Allow Fireworks in Iowa

The following Iowa cities do not allow the use of consumer fireworks during any time of the year include:

  • Clive

  • Des Moines

  • Pleasant Hill

  • Urbandale

  • West Des Moines

  • Windsor Heights

Many of these cities are located in Central Iowa and some of the reasons for fireworks being prohibited is that they have been known to cause major fires and damages to properties.

Something as simple as sparklers when not used properly or attended to can create major damages to its surrounding area.

Can I Light Fireworks Anytime?

No, you cannot light fireworks anytime. Under state law, there are set dates and timeframes for when the use of fireworks is allowed.

Holidays Fireworks That Are Acceptable

Typically, residents of Ankeny, Bondurant, Carlisle, Indianola, Grime, Norwalk, and Waukee allow consumer fireworks to be lit during New Year's Eve, July 3, July 4, and certain days in June.

When a holiday such as July 4 is approaching, retailers of consumer fireworks allow for the sale a day or two earlier, hence July 3 being a legal day for sales. This short period is meant to make it so that residents in Iowa can't freely purchase them.

If there is a county or city that is looking to light fireworks and they fall under regions such as Des Moines, or Central Iowa which bans the use of fireworks, sparklers, or firecrackers, residents can visit neighboring areas which do allow for their use. From New Year to a milestone celebration, fireworks can be used if done correctly and legally.

What Happens if I Light Fireworks Outside Acceptable Times?

If a neighbor or someone reports the illegal use or display of fireworks in Iowa, police may be summoned to the residence.

Penalties and Fines

Depending on the county as well as the police, the penalties and fines may vary based on circumstances. Though the law is clear in counties such as West Des Moines, Des Moines, and other cities in Central Iowa, where the use of consumer fireworks is prohibited if someone is caught breaking this ban the fines and penalties can be much more severe.

One type of penalty that could come from the use of consumer fireworks, especially if a fire were to happen, would be a simple misdemeanor.

In cases where a person using sparklers or firecrackers outside normal times, the penalty may be a minimum fine of $250.

Quick Safe Tips on Lighting Fireworks

Quick Safe Tips on Lighting Fireworks

When it comes to safely lighting fireworks, make sure you pay attention to local ordinances because not doing so could result in steep fines, misdemeanors, or fire.

As well as paying attention to where you light your fireworks, make sure to check that you are within the calendar of being allowed to legally use them. If you are in a city that only allows fireworks within June, or July 3 and July 4, don't risk it and light outside those times.

Make sure to have a fire extinguisher or some form of fire repellant extinguisher should the fireworks get out of hand. July can be a dry month for some parts of Iowa; therefore, taking the time to be prepared can go a long way.


When we think of fireworks, we think of Fourth of July; however, now more than ever, there is a desire to light fireworks and put on a show for our friends and family. While this is great and who doesn't love fireworks outside the month of July - it is important to take the time to read and know your limitations, especially so you don't get injured. If you have been injured due to someone else's negligence with fireworks, visit our personal injury page. Make sure that if your county has restrictions or timeframes for when fireworks can be used, they are followed.

For more information regarding Iowa criminal offenses such as Iowa's liquor laws or why Cuban cigars are illegal, talk to a specialized lawyer.



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