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View Full Version : Need to store ammo fire-safe or not?


10-03-2005, 5:03 PM
Question: Is there a need to store ammo in a fire-rated safe, or not, purely from a fire-safety standpoint, taking into account the likely reaction of a fire department? And if yes, what are good ways to do that?

Details: I don't even care whether my guns are in a fire-rated safe. If my house burns to the ground, then all my guns being destroyed is a very small problem, in the big picture. All I care is that the guns are stored in accordance with CA 12088, are not accessible to kids, and a casual burglar can't get them (a determined burglar with hours of time is not something I worry about).

I know that ammo doesn't even have to be stored in a locked container; in principle I could just pile ammo boxes on the floor. I prefer to have them in a locked cabinet, just so kids or casual visitors don't go playing with it. What I'm worried about is the fire safety aspect. There is no reason to worry about the ammo itself - all the ammo I'm likely to have at home can be replaced for a few thousand $. Clearly ammo doesn't "shoot" in case of a fire (unless someone leaves a gun loaded); rumor has it that it rather burns, with individual rounds going off like popcorn. What I do worry about is stories I hear: Once the firefighters figure out that ammo is stored in this building and see/hear it cooking off, they refuse to go anywhere close to it, until the building has burned to the ground. Fortunately, I've never experienced anything like this myself, but I just heard a story about a CDF fire team in a mountain area refusing to enter a building because ammo was present.

If this is true, then it would make a lot of sense to store ammo in a fire-rated box, which keeps it cool enough so it doesn't cook off. The easiest way would be to use a big gun safe, but that's a very expensive way just to store ammo.

First: Do people agree that there is a serious risk of stored ammo scaring firefighters away?

Second: If true, what are space- and cost-efficient ways to store ammo? One option is to put the ammo in milsurp ammo boxes, and store them far away from the house (detached garage, garden shed or such), but there it is a tradeoff against security (burglar going through the shed finds box of ammo) and environmental (large temperature swings, danger of humidity). This is clearly the right thing to do for gasoline etc, which from a fire point of view is much more dangerous than ammo, but is common enough that it doesn't scare firefighters.

For storing ammo safely in the house, is there some fire-rated storage cabinet that is inexpensive (doesn't need to be secure against burglars)? Do people have other suggestions for how to store ammo safely?

socalguns
10-04-2005, 11:34 PM
Originally posted by treelogger:
Question: Is there a need to store ammo in a fire-rated safe, or not, purely from a fire-safety standpoint, taking into account the likely reaction of a fire department? And if yes, what are good ways to do that?

Details: I don't even care whether my guns are in a fire-rated safe. If my house burns to the ground, then all my guns being destroyed is a very small problem, in the big picture. All I care is that the guns are stored in accordance with CA 12088, are not accessible to kids, and a casual burglar can't get them (a determined burglar with hours of time is not something I worry about).

I know that ammo doesn't even have to be stored in a locked container; in principle I could just pile ammo boxes on the floor. I prefer to have them in a locked cabinet, just so kids or casual visitors don't go playing with it. What I'm worried about is the fire safety aspect. There is no reason to worry about the ammo itself - all the ammo I'm likely to have at home can be replaced for a few thousand $. Clearly ammo doesn't "shoot" in case of a fire (unless someone leaves a gun loaded); rumor has it that it rather burns, with individual rounds going off like popcorn. What I do worry about is stories I hear: Once the firefighters figure out that ammo is stored in this building and see/hear it cooking off, they refuse to go anywhere close to it, until the building has burned to the ground. Fortunately, I've never experienced anything like this myself, but I just heard a story about a CDF fire team in a mountain area refusing to enter a building because ammo was present.

If this is true, then it would make a lot of sense to store ammo in a fire-rated box, which keeps it cool enough so it doesn't cook off. The easiest way would be to use a big gun safe, but that's a very expensive way just to store ammo.

First: Do people agree that there is a serious risk of stored ammo scaring firefighters away?

Second: If true, what are space- and cost-efficient ways to store ammo? One option is to put the ammo in milsurp ammo boxes, and store them far away from the house (detached garage, garden shed or such), but there it is a tradeoff against security (burglar going through the shed finds box of ammo) and environmental (large temperature swings, danger of humidity). This is clearly the right thing to do for gasoline etc, which from a fire point of view is much more dangerous than ammo, but is common enough that it doesn't scare firefighters.

For storing ammo safely in the house, is there some fire-rated storage cabinet that is inexpensive (doesn't need to be secure against burglars)? Do people have other suggestions for how to store ammo safely?

I'd just keep it in a locked closet,
one with ventilation (prevents gas buildup)



http://www.ci.corvallis.or.us/index.php?option=content&...565&Itemid=1904#ammo (http://www.ci.corvallis.or.us/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=1565&Itemid= 1904#ammo)

How can I store ammunition so that it doesn't harm emergency personnel in the event of a fire?
Firefighters experience the surprise of exploding ammunition in a fire situation with some regularity. When bullets and shells are exposed to fire, as long as they are not chambered in a weapon, they are generally not lethal. They do explode and you certainly would not want to be in the immediate vicinity. Most often, however, they will simply explode and not project the pellets or slugs with much force.

The safety gear worn by firefighters has been fairly effective in protecting them from injury in this case. Loaded weapons exposed to high heat, however, will "shoot;" and semi-automatic weapons will keep shooting, especially if gas-operated as most repeating shotguns and some rifles are. This is a severe hazard for emergency personnel (or anyone in the vicinity).

There is a documented instance (which occurred elsewhere, by the way) in which a loaded rifle, mounted on a wall rack, kept discharging during a fire, hitting the command vehicle, causing fire personnel to believe that they were being shot at. They withdrew to a safe location and, consequently, the house was destroyed. Fortunately, no one was hurt in that instance. So, this is another good reason for not keeping loaded weapons in the home.

Safe storage of shells and bullets would be best in a fire-resistive gun cabinet. Lacking that, there are metal ammunition boxes; however, they create a risk of a larger, more powerful explosion if the components were to detonate due to the confined energy created by the box itself. A personal safe with a fire rating would be the next best, giving security against unwarranted access as well as fire protection.

10-07-2005, 3:48 PM
I know there is a requirment and limits for powder storage in CA, but not aware of anything for ammo.

Kids getting into it aside, I have found the best approach for storage are the GI ammo cans and wooden boxes.

These are lockable (installation required) and the GI cans are generally air/moisture tight. Ammo should be stored in cool/dry areas as the powder can break down if not stored right.

imported_dadoody
10-10-2005, 9:19 AM
I store my ammo in a 60 dollar brinks firesafe I bought from Fry's. Not so much to protect my ammo, but to protect everyone else is case of fire. Don't want my ammo flying all over the place. Hopefully, a nice hard steel safe will prevent this.

Gnote
11-06-2005, 8:16 PM
Now you guys got me thinking about this as well. We have a lot of ammo in the house. Between 9mm, 40 S&W, 357 sig, 223, and 12 gauge, I think we have about 6k and change.

We bought a bunch when we were getting 5 percent back on from our credit card. Figured we would use eventually.

Guinness
11-06-2005, 9:40 PM
I but to protect everyone else is case of fire. Don't want my ammo flying all over the place. Hopefully, a nice hard steel safe will prevent this.

Thats the key, I can tell ya if theres any sounds of ammo release, your house is going to be allowed to burn down.. Life before Property...

johnny_22
11-07-2005, 9:44 AM
This was 2 blocks from my house. Police closed off blocks around the burning shed/house and evacuated people in adjacent houses. Owner had kept a light on in a shed in the back yard where he stored 22 ammo. KCBS radio interviewed him. He said that those 22s won't kill you; they just sting. Firefighters did not believe him.

You can find part of the story at http://www.mapreport.com/na/west/ba/news/cities/milpitas.html

Google search for "6-alarm fire destroyed house" and the cache will pull up the CBS 5 story.

I use silica gel for keeping my ammo dry, not a hot bulb.

Guinness
11-07-2005, 9:06 PM
He said that those 22s won't kill you; they just sting. Firefighters did not believe him.



Umm hmm...:rolleyes:

hkfooey
11-11-2005, 11:36 AM
something to think about .. hum... hum... hum... :confused:

ivanimal
11-15-2005, 8:13 AM
I use a Fireking firesafe, you can find them used at office furniture stores. Mine weighs 650 lbs unloaded. I mainly keep the paperwork in the bottom drawer and ammo in the top 3.http://www.firekingoffice.com/images/file_25.jpg

http://www.firekingoffice.com/fk_files.html

Guinness
11-15-2005, 3:55 PM
Thats actually a good idea Ivan!.. Might have to look for something like this..

How much ammo can it hold?.. Weight wise?..

Thanks!

zefflyn
12-12-2005, 4:33 PM
You can find part of the story at http://www.mapreport.com/na/west/ba/news/cities/milpitas.html

Google search for "6-alarm fire destroyed house" and the cache will pull up the CBS 5 story.

I use silica gel for keeping my ammo dry, not a hot bulb.

That's a cool website! I'd never seen it before.

I keep my ammo piled up on top of my dresser, but need to find a better spot for it. Might get one of those fire-resistant filing cabinets, and keep it in the garage.

How much weight can each drawer hold?