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The truth about fire, shock and ammunition

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I watched a train wreck of a conversation on an anti-gun FB page yesterday evening. One of the topics was how firefighters are at risk from responding to locations where guns and ammunition are stored – apparently (sarcasm) gun owners are unnecessarily putting those brave men and women at risk. In fact, we're murdering them. To address some of what was conveyed inaccurately by those assertions (which in fairness might be done for altruistic, if grossly misinformed, reasons) I'm reposting this article from last November. It's a little long, but read it and watch the video. Great information here – it will allow you to address misunderstandings from an informed position. DR

SAAMI – Fire, Shock & Ammunition

SAAMI, the Small Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute , made this video to test and demonstrate the effect of various firefighter-related environmental factors on ammunition. It is a long video, but extremely interesting. It will no doubt put to rest many myths and misunderstandings about ammunition placed in fire, subject to a drop from a great height or if other cartridges nearby are ignited. As an example, contrary to what we see in movies (shocking and unexpected we know), projectiles ignited outside a firearm have significantly lower velocities and energy than when discharged from a firearm. The idea that a box dropped into a fire would be popping off and begin actually “shooting” everyone nearby is false, though there a threat of physical damage certainly remains (primarily from shrapnel). If you're primarily interested in the reaction of quantities of ammunition to a fire, go straight to 12:22. Much of what you'll learn actually surprised me – for instance, without the confinement and direction of a chamber, an 18 grain #9 12-gauge shell won't penetrate cardboard from 7″ away. Firefighter in bunker gear were able to enter a room with over 100,000 rounds of ammunition fully engulfed and extinguish the fire within 10 seconds, unharmed by the low velocity projectiles initiated by the flames; likewise they were able to put out a very large fire in a truck trailer loaded with one quarter of a million rounds of sporting ammunition.

Fire in a simulated ammunition retail location

Note: ammunition chambered in a firearm will fire as though the trigger was pulled.

Sadly, much ammunition was harmed in the making of this movie.

02:06 Single Cartridge Impact (fire)

03:41 Effect of impact from a 65′ drop

05:09 Bullet ignition propagation via impact

08:00 Blasting cap effect on ammunition

09:59 Compression and friction: forklift and bulldozer impact

12:22 Effect of fire on ammunition: bonfire on ammunition in packaging

15:39 Effect of fire on ammunition: bonfire on ammunition without packaging

17:24 Ammunition retail store fire simulation (115,000 rounds of various calibers set on fire in a confined space)

21:00 Semi-trailer fire simulation (252,000 rounds of ammunition on pallets in a truck trailer)

23:30 Overall conclusion of over 400,000 rounds of ammunition subjected to extreme stimuli

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