A spokesman for the Cedar Rapids Fire Department says tonight’s and tomorrow’s Fourth of July fireworks shows will go on as scheduled despite the dry conditions in eastern Iowa. There have been some reports the fireworks would be delayed or canceled, but Craig Buelow says they have all the necessary precautions in place.
“There are certified pyrotechnicians that have had training, also they meet national fire protection association standards. There’s different regulations on the size of the shell, the have to have safety precautions in place around their detonation or discharge area,” Buelow explains.
“Plus we have firefighters on standby at both events that are not only putting sprinklers on nearby buildings, but are ready to respond with fire extinguishers and fire apparatus if we get any hot ashes or debris.” The first fireworks show is set for the Ellis Boat Harbor by the river tonight and then there’s a show downtown in conjunction with the Freedom Festival tomorrow.
“The dry conditions obviously are something that we are watching, but they are not going to postpone or delay either event,” Buelow says. He says the fireworks show by the river is less of a concern because the area is more wide open. The downtown show is done over tall buildings, and that’s where firefighters have to be watching.
“Most of the time the debris will flame out and cool itself before anything would reach the ground. But when you have some higher buildings, there’s always a possibility of some of that debris landing on the rooftops. So anything in the immediate area would be wetted down, and then there’s actually sprinklers they activate up there to make sure it stays cool,” Buelow says.
Buelow says there are some neighboring states to Iowa where he’s heard of fireworks shows being canceled due to the dry conditions, but he is not aware of any around Cedar Rapids. He says the biggest danger for the fireworks shows is often sparklers in the hands of kids.
“Those are pretty dangerous because you’ve got a lot of people in close proximity and if children are running through there with a hot wire that can burn as high as 700-degrees Fahrenheit. That could impale somebody, or cause somebody to get burned,” according the Buelow. “We tell people that even though sparklers are considered legal, it’s best to just leave them home.”
Buelow says he’s also concerned about the health of those who head out the fireworks shows. The forecast includes excessive heat warnings, and he says there could be a lot of heat related medical problems in the big crowds at the shows if people don’t take precautions.