116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION - A Marion man looking to sell fireworks out of a Marion building ran into difficulties this week, mainly because the state permit allowing him to pursue those sales isn't yet available.
Joe Zalesky and his two partners have sold fireworks out of a tent in Missouri for several years. He was eagerly awaiting the Iowa law, recently signed by former Gov. Terry Branstad, that legalizes the sale of consumer fireworks in Iowa between June 1 and July 8 and between Dec. 10 and Jan. 3.
A few weeks ago, Zalesky rented a vacant building at the southeast corner of Highways 151 and 13 and began moving in the fireworks he plans to sell.
Zalesky said he put about $400 of gravel on the road leading to the building - formerly the Fox Den strip club - and was cleaning out the building when officials from the State Fire Marshal's Office and the Marion Fire Department told him told him to stop, saying he hadn't the necessary permits and license.
'There's anti-fireworks people out there, people with authority that are doing everything they can to stop it, still,” Zalesky said.
Zalesky said he was not intending to sell the fireworks until the law permits the sale on June 1. He does not yet have a state license to sell the fireworks, mainly because the state fire marshal does not yet have an application created for the licenses.
Wade Markley, Marion's fire marshal, who visited Zalesky on Wednesday, said two issues are at play: Zalesky's storage of the fireworks and the delay in fireworks license applications.
The International Fire Code has guidelines on storing fireworks that specify permanent structures must have a certain number of exits, emergency lighting, an adequate number of fire extinguishers and more.
'The fireworks are in a commercial building,” Markley said. 'For them to be stored in a commercial building, that requires permits and an inspection.”
In addition, anyone interested in selling fireworks must be approved for a state license and have their structure inspected by the state fire marshal.
Then, Markley said, the individual can apply for a city permit. The city also inspects the structure and requires that the building have proper lighting, a certain number of parking spaces for customers and a road that a firetruck can use to get within 150 feet of the building.
Zalesky said he didn't think he would hook up the building to utilities, though he had considered using a generator to power lights.
Zalesky said Thursday he was moving his fireworks to a storage facility in Cedar Rapids.
'Now they're in a residential area, which is a whole lot worse,” Zalesky said.
Markley said more than half a dozen individuals have expressed interest in selling fireworks in Marion.
'What we're going by is strictly the laws and regulations on the books,” he said. 'I would encourage anyone else that you have to follow the process. Once the state comes out with their rules and regulations, things will move a lot quicker.”