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SAAMI is the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute. They’re the people who, among other things, test and publish standard for gun and ammo makers. As a service to firefighters and other emergency responders, they’ve produced this hard-to-watch video. It’s hard to watch because so much now-scarce ammo is sacrificed to show that despite what you may have seen in the movies, short of cooking a gun with a live round in the chamber, there’s almost nothing you can do to normal sporting ammunition that will result in an injury. I wouldn’t recommend viewing either the retail store or semi trailer simulation, though. Watching 115,000 and then 252,000 rounds of gun food go up in smoke isn’t for the faint of heart.   [h/t Brian S. via]

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  1. Luckily, I didn’t see any .22lr harmed in this video (granted I did quick jumps, but most of it looked like shotgun, .45, and hunting rifle ammo.)

  2. I promise you that being geared up, not being able to see a darn thing and hearing ammo “cook off” is effin scary. I worked a three story house fire once and the homeowner was a gun collector. We had control of the fire at first but once the ammo started cooking off command blew the horns (universal signal for GTFO). The house wound up being a complete loss. This topic is a pretty common debate in our proffesion and even though its ultimatley not as dangerous as some may think, I wont take a chance in an unocupied building.

    Great video/recourse. I hope they introduce this in to the next eddition of IFSTAs Essentials of Firefighting.

  3. This is good stuff. Ammo 101 for those that freak when someone has 10k rounds in their garage, 5k of which is 22LR. OMG.

    • I cant speak for thoes who think the whole house would blow up at the light of a match and obliterate every child and dog (oh wait police ammo wasnt tested) in the neighborhood. However I do know what its like being near that when its burning, when your in a place you dont know and you cant see s#it, its a bit scary. Especially if you dont know about the ammo before going in.

      • Or, you know, FDs could quit doing interior attacks without confirmed entrapment. Pictures and tables aren’t worth a life.

        • Yea no kidding Steve, thats why I gave up the fire side of things and stick to EMS now. If I have to Id risk my life for another but I got tired of risking it for property.

          Of course, there are fire departments that dont make aggressive attacks on every fire and actually value the lives of their people.

  4. Definitely good information to have. Truth be told I was kinda worried about what would happen with my limited ammo stores in the event the house caught fire. I’m glad to know they won’t present a danger over and above the house already being on fire.

    • Ditto.

      In my garage, the 25 gallons of gasoline (5 in the ATV, 5 in the lawn tractor, 15 in cans) 20 feet from the 5k rounds of ammo is almost certainly a greater danger than the ammo.

      But… there’s also the 20 lbs of KNO3 and KClO4 on the other side of the room…

  5. Thank you very much for this post; very, very informative!

    Like Jim R, I’ve been a tad concerned about the safety of storing ammunition in the house. But now I know that the 12 gauge steel of the storage cabinet will go a long way in holding any projectiles in the event of fire.

    Thanks again!

  6. I wonder if this will allow homeowners to file claims against FDs if they refuse to fight a fire as soon as they hear that there is ammo in the house.

    While firefighters need to always weigh the risk to their own life over the property of others but there have been a few cases where they simply refuse to do anything at all. I am sure those are isolated incidences but still, losing you entire home when they could have safely contained the fire to one side of the home but simply didn’t do anything at all but ensure the fire would not jump to the next property; that just doesn’t sound right to me. Especially if it is just due to pure ignorance on the subject, urban legends or movies.

    • The only ignorance about firefighting, thanks to movies and TV, is how easy and glamorous our job looks. Sitting in nice leather recliners all day and eating good food, working 9 days a month, walking/running in to a burning building and seeing all around you, survivng flashovers, always saving the victims inside.

      Bottom line is, if no one is trapped inside then its not worth sending firefighters in. Well if its a room and contents fire then sure save as much as possible but anything well or fully involved is not worth the risk. I have lost brothers and sisters to the job over unoccupied buildings so do not speak of “safley contained” to one side or ignorance on anyones part but your own unless you do the job yourself. No property is worth risking life over.

  7. The ammo store demo was completely bogus.

    Should have had 8 boxes of .32 auto, 10 boxes of 16ga. birdshot and nothing else.

  8. Wasn’t this a Mystbusters episode too? I remember them placing single cartridges in an oven to see that they cook off with little damage to the oven itself

    • Yeah, Mythbusters did a show on it. Built a fire and then threw random, unboxed ammo into it. They’d built walls of sheetrock around it so they could see how far, fast, and hard the fragments flew. Bottom line, the casings flew further than the bullets, and they put a few holes in the drywall, but mostly just dings and dents, and nothing that would be likely to cause more than minor injuries. The heavy fabric of a turnout coat would likely stop the vast majority of it.


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