That Pesky Pyromesh
How to safely unpack fireworks encased in wire mesh and strapping.
What is pyromesh and why is it used?
Some larger cakes and rockets come supplied in a wire mesh cage inside their cardboard box. The purpose of this is usually to enable 1.3G fireworks to be classified as the less hazardous 1.4G category and thus allow retailers to store more of them and transport them easier. There are also implications on your own storage of fireworks at home since a lot more 1.4G fireworks can be stored, and for longer, than 1.3G.
For much more information about the technicalities, have a read of my 1.3G or 1.4G Fireworks? and Safe Fireworks Storage articles. For the rest of this article I’ll be concentrating just on the practicalities of unpacking the fireworks.
Check all boxed items in your firework display for pyromesh well ahead of setting up, so you can take time to remove the packaging safely on the day. Don’t leave it until the last moment in the dark!
Cakes and compounds
Starting with the most common pyromeshed item, cakes (also known as barrages and including here the larger compound cakes), there’s no real indication from the outside that it’s pyromeshed underneath. For this article I’m using a firework called Legacy which happens to have an illustrated outer box however in most cases you will be dealing with a more general brown card outer box. Either way, both contain the same information on the outside including the classification, powder content and so on. Note the 1.4G classification diamond:
However when you open the cardboard box you’re in for a bit of a surprise as the inner firework is encased in metal! Now you can see why being faced with this minutes before your display could be a problem:
This is quite formidable packaging which cannot be removed by hand. You will need a suitable tool to snip the metal strapping so that you can remove the mesh. After having done this many hundreds of times over the years I can confirm that wire cutting snips or heavy duty scissors work the best. Smaller wire cutters tend to struggle here. It is also highly recommended to wear a pair of rigging gloves when removing the mesh cage; cuts and scratches are common otherwise.
Here’s a look at a pyromeshed cake when removed completely from its outer box:
Although you could remove the entire meshed section from the outer box as shown above and then remove the metal, one very useful tip which can save you a lot of time is to first tip the cake on its side and open the bottom of the box. The reason is that quite a lot of cakes we have unpacked do not extend the wire mesh underneath and often you will therefore find the bottom is only covered by straps. So taking this into account the complete – and easier – way to tackle this would be as follows:
Some rocket packs are also encased in pyromesh. This is usually the case when buying the more powerful 1.3G rockets by mail order. The pyromesh allows the rockets to be classified as 1.4G, making storage and delivery easier (far fewer couriers take 1.3G fireworks). With rockets it is easier to spot pyromeshed items because the box will be rectangular and will rattle a lot!
For sets of larger rockets (e.g. cases of 4 and long, rectangular boxes) you should first open each small end because in many cases the cages have their own hinged cap. This can simply be unlocked by sliding open the lock, opening the lid and then pulling the rockets out.
For larger, complete cases of rockets the entire inner box will be meshed and strapped. In this case it is usually easier to remove the entire card outer and then snip the straps before removing one or both halves of the mesh cage to get to the rockets.
Disposing of the mesh
The outer cardboard box can go in the recycling bin afterwards. In most cases the mesh can too since it is metal though as every local council has differing rules on metal you might want to ask first. The last time I checked, the metal has no value in terms of scrap, but if you know any different, please let me know and I will update this page accordingly.
Pyromesh has been the subject of much debate in my Fireworks Forum as to alternative uses afterwards in an effort to “up cycle” but we’ve yet to come up with any great ideas for it!
When to unpack and implications on storage
Whilst you never want to leave unpacking pyromeshed items to the last moment, you also don’t want to unpack them too soon either. An item that’s 1.4G in pyromesh is likely to be considered as 1.3G once out of the mesh and this could have implications on your storage limits and times if storing a lot of fireworks for a few weeks before your display. For this reason – and to keep things safer in case of the unthinkable – I recommend leaving pyromeshed items in their original packaging until the day of the display when you would normally be setting up anyway.
Full storage limits for 1.3G and 1.4G fireworks can be found in my Safe Fireworks Storage article.