Clearing Up Your Fireworks

Advice on safely clearing up your pyro once the display is over.

The less glamorous side of hosting a fireworks display is the clearing up afterwards. Care is still needed at this point to ensure you de-rig everything safely.

Immediately after the display

Treat your spent fireworks as if they are still live. Keep spectators out of the fireworks area and ideally leave the fireworks some time before clearing them up.

If you’re displaying in your own garden you can leave them overnight and clear up the next morning. If not, wait at least five minutes, but if you are aware of any part-fired items, any duds or if any firework casing is on fire, leave it longer!

See the Things That Can Go Wrong article for advice on dealing with duds.

Clearing up

It is recommended that you keep your PPE on while you are clearing up.

In addition to spent firework carcasses and your wooden stakes and other equipment, you are likely to find a lot of other litter including the paper or cellophane from the tops of cakes, card disks and bungs from within firework tubes, and rocket sticks and plastic heads in your fall out area.

Cutting carcasses away from stakes and picking up litter isn’t the nicest job in the world which is why I suggest leaving it until the morning if it’s your back garden, when it’s light. It’s also potentially dirty from the soot and smoke particles, though pyroheads tend to enjoy that smell of sulphur, we’re weird like that!

If you’re clearing up in the dark, head torches are ideal to give you light whilst also keeping your hands free. 

Try to avoid leaning over fireworks, even spent ones. It’s a good habit to get into.

It is a very bad idea to put spent fireworks on a bonfire. The reason is that multishot items often contain one or two unfired shells. These can explode in the fire and shoot out in random directions. I’ve seen this happen and it’s highly dangerous. Just ask my mate Roger who nearly lost a testicle!

The best way of disposing of firework carcasses is still the subject of some debate by firework users. Given the amount of paper and card in them, it would be great to be able to recycle them. Sadly, most of the tubes have clay bungs in the bottom and are thus unsuitable for recycling as card. Hence, spent fireworks tend to be treated as general waste. If you have a lot of them and are taking them to your local tip it might be worth asking there for advice.

Any part-fired items or anything you think may still contain live gunpowder should be soaked in a bucket of water overnight before being thrown away.

Display clear up
This professional has the luxury of a "Billy Goat" petrol-powered litter picker!