Are fireworks legal where you live? How not to get fined while celebrating the 4th of July

Victoria Yin
Des Moines Register

Editor's note: This story was published in 2020. For updated information in 2021, click here.

Thinking about putting on a fireworks display of your own? 

Before you set them off, here's what you need to know to stay above the law as the Fourth of July approaches: 

When are fireworks sold?

Fireworks can be sold in Iowa from June 1 to July 8 in permanent buildings and from June 13 to July 8 in tents and other temporary structures. They're also sold during a short period around New Year's.

2021 events:Where to go for July 4 weekend fireworks shows and other festivities in the Des Moines metro

More:Know the rules before you celebrate July 4 in the Des Moines metro

When can I set them off?

Fireworks are allowed in the state from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. June 1 through July 8 and Dec. 10 through Jan. 3. Hours are extended to 11 p.m. on July 4 and the weekends immediately preceding and following July 4. Other extensions are allowed around New Year's.

However, regulations for recreational fireworks vary across cities, with some choosing to ban the use of consumer fireworks altogether.

Which central Iowa cities allow fireworks?

Fireworks are prohibited in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Altoona, Clive, Johnston, Urbandale, Ames and Windsor Heights. However, some of those cities plan to host public fireworks shows

Fireworks are allowed for Fourth of July celebrations in Carlisle, Ankeny, Bondurant, Waukee, Indianola, Pleasant Hill, Norwalk, and Grimes, with some cities allowing them on New Year's as well. Where permitted, Iowa law limits the use of fireworks to personal property.

  • Carlisle: July 1-4, from 12 p.m to 11 p.m.
  • Ankeny: July 4, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Bondurant: July 3, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.; July 4, from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Waukee: July 3-4, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Indianola: July 3-5, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m (with an extension to 11 p.m. on July 4)
  • Pleasant Hill: July 4, from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.; New Year's Eve from 12 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Jan. 1 
  • Norwalk: July 1-8, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; New Year's Eve from 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 1
  • Grimes: July 1-8, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (with an extension to 11 p.m. on July 4); Dec. 29 to Jan. 3, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (New Year's Eve until 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 1)

More:Looking for fireworks? Here's a statewide map showing all of Iowa's licensed vendors

What happens if I break the rules?

Fireworks violations are punishable by fines ranging from $100 to $650, depending on the city. 

Officials with the Des Moines Police Department and Polk County Sheriff's Office said complaints about fireworks are higher than in previous years.

Lt. Jeff Rullman, a spokesman with the Polk County Sheriff's Office, said deputies must use their discretion when responding to complaints about fireworks. They typically respond to a first complaint by educating people about fireworks regulations and issuing a warning, he said. Additional complaints can lead to a citation. 

'It's a nightmare': Des Moines fireworks complaints in June double same period in 2019

How can I still see fireworks?

Some popular central Iowa fireworks displays have been postponed or canceled because of pandemic health and safety restrictions, but fireworks displays are still planned in Altoona, Urbandale, Waukee and West Des Moines.

In Altoona, Adventureland will have two nights of fireworks, at 9:30 p.m. on July 3 and July 4. Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino has scheduled its annual fireworks display for 9:45 p.m. on July 3.

The Des Moines Symphony's Yankee Doodle Pops celebration, which typically draws thousands to the Iowa State Capitol grounds and the surrounding area, has been rescheduled as a Labor Day celebration on Sept. 7 in the Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park. 

► More:Here's what you can and cannot do on the Fourth of July in Iowa

Follow the Register on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Victoria Yin can be contacted at or on Twitter @VictoriaYin6.

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