Vendors must adhere to rules
Fireworks regulations less restrictive in counties than in cities
Years of labor in the summer heat, unloading trucks and meticulously packing and unpacking rows of explosives haven’t deterred Darla Sullivan and her family from spending every Fourth of July selling fireworks out of a tent.
Actually, they embrace it. Sullivan’s daughter, Sheena Brown, 27, has worked every year on the days surrounding Independence Day since she was 14. Not because her mother makes her, but because she wants to. Sullivan started working at fireworks stands a few years before that. It’s all Brown’s 9-yearold son, Joshua, has ever known.
On Thursday, Brown’s 3-year-old daughter, Cadence, eagerly wanted to know when they could shoot off fireworks. Sullivan’s other daughter, Madison Sullivan, celebrated her 20th birthday Thursday. She has gotten used to spending birthdays in a fireworks stand.
Madison also is getting married next year during the same week. The wedding will be at a separate venue.
“I think she’ll draw the line there,” Darla Sullivan said.
This year marks the first time the family has worked out of the Fireworks City tent near Fox Hunter Road and Mission Boulevard, just outside Fayetteville.
Previously, they worked in Springdale, where they live.
Admittedly, it’s a little easier to set up shop in the county as opposed to within a city, Darla Sullivan said. She always had her tape measure ready in Springdale. The city, like Fayetteville, has such requirements as stands must be at least 50 feet from the street and 250 feet from a fuel station.
Washington County follows state requirements, meaning sales can take place from June 20 to July 10, and a fire marshal has to inspect the tent. Vendors have to renew their licenses every year and pay a $25 application fee. Cities generally have more restrictive measures.
Selling fireworks in Fayetteville is only allowed in commercial zones. Applicants have to get an outdoor vendor permit, provide a site plan and pay a $500 application fee. A $1 million insurance policy is required. The fire marshal review criteria is made up of a dozen bullet points with dozens more subcategories. Sales start June 28 and end July 5.
Springdale has similar requirements. The allowable time frame is the same, as is the application fee and insurance policy, but the city allows fireworks sales in agricultural zones next to a highway in addition to commercial zones.
Rogers asks for a $1,000 application fee. Permit fees from all three cities pay for the fire marshal’s time to inspect each tent. Rogers only allows fireworks stands in agricultural zones and 24-hour security is required.
Benton County follows the state statute and requires a $100 application fee.
In Bentonville, only one vendor, Rainbow Fireworks on South Walton Boulevard, operates within the city. That’s because the tent set up shop before the city’s ordinance banning fireworks sales was adopted in 1983 and it was grandfathered in, said Curtis Sharp, deputy fire chief. That vendor still has to have liability insurance, a permit from the city, a license from the state and a fire inspection before he opens, Sharp said.
“If they stop or they move, then they’re done and we’ll have zero,” Sharp said. “But, there’s a big process to go through.”
As of Thursday, Fayetteville approved 20 permits to sell fireworks in the city. Springdale approved 24. Benton County had 23 and Washington County had nine fireworks vendors operating, although a county-specific permit is not required, according to officials in those municipalities.
Fayetteville has allowed fireworks sales since 2010, although the ordinance has changed back and forth during previous years. Springdale has allowed sales since 2003. Rogers started allowing fireworks sales this year, but no vendors applied, said Ben Cline, city spokesman.
“It is a possibility but no one took us up on it this year,” Cline said.
Shun Turner, a Rogers resident, said he likes to go to a stand in Lowell but this year joined his twin sister, Shana, at the Fireworks City tent outside Fayetteville. The two usually get fireworks last minute, as in going to get them in between grilling things on July 4, but wanted to have more time to spend with family on the holiday. “We’re being proactive I guess this year,” he said.
Tessa Evans and sons Sladen Evans, 4, and Jordan Evans, 8, of Centerton shop for fireworks Friday at the Centerton Fraternal Order of Police fireworks stand in Centerton. In its second year, the stand raises money for the Fraternal Order of Police to hold community events and support officers in the Centerton Police Department.
Jordan Overton (left) and Caleb Anitin, 7, both volunteers with the University of Arkansas Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, stock fireworks Monday at the Chi Alpha fireworks stand in the parking lot of Lokomotion Family Fun Park in Fayetteville.