OTTUMWA — Iowans are preparing for their third summer with fireworks, and a pair of Ottumwa residents are hoping to get a jump on the competition.
Trenton Mull and Jesse Leon created CR Performance to sell fireworks during the window in which sales are allowed in Iowa. They were setting up their tent at Ferry Street and Richmond Avenue on Friday.
“We’re hoping to get rolling today, be open this weekend,” Mull said.
The process of getting the licenses and permits to sell fireworks isn’t simple. Leon said it’s not one step, but several.
“It is difficult in a sense. There’s several processes. You’ve got to find the land. Every city has to have its own regulations,” Leon said.
And then there’s the insurance. Companies are understandably a bit skittish about covering a business whose literal job is selling explosives. Every step has to be done in exactly the right way to get the required coverage.
Even the signs are important. Fireworks vendors prohibit smoking anywhere near their locations for obvious reasons. You also have to have ways to put down any fire that may start. Leon said CR Performance has both water and chemical extinguishers on hand.
Fireworks were banned in Iowa until 2017. Cities and counties can still restrict their use, but the state legislature does not allow them to prohibit sales.
In Ottumwa, the city council took steps last year to narrow the window for setting off fireworks. It eliminated use on New Year’s Day entirely, and tightened Fourth of July celebrations to 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. that day.
Leon hopes for good sales.
“We’re just individuals putting on a fireworks show. I feel like we’ll be able to have lower prices,” he said.