Good video to keep "on file"

This is the preview film SAAMI put out for firefighters, at the end it shows where your local FD can get their own (complete) copy.
It might calm down your local FD and homeowners insurance agent.

That is a really well produced video, very high quality. It’s true about ammo & fire safety. I think the Mythbusters did an “ammo on fire” experiment in one of their shows, and they found that it mostly just bursts, rather than actually firing much.

In about 1991, we did an “experiment” on ammunition in our store by having a fire in the middle of the night that burned out one of our store rooms, evidently caused by ancient wiring in the wall of the room going crazy.

Far more hazardous than the ammunition were the bursting aerosol cans of oil, solvents, etc. In some cases, we found little sharp pieces of the cans about on the floor. the ammo did just what was expected, almost nothing. Some shotgun shells, in boxes with the cardboard burnt away, had burst but the “explosion” did not even cause them to fall out of the now-open (burnt away) box side. They were still neatly heel-to-toe in the box. There was NO damage caused by any burning ammunition, other than that to the ammo itself.

DK–You are correct about the “Mythbusters” show. They burned everything from .22 LR to .50 BMG under all sorts of conditions and could get nothing bigger than a small bang, of course, no EXPLOSION. Just burst cases with NOTHING going more than a couple of feet. No bullets whizzing though the air as many media reports would have you believe.

You guys might be in for a surprise. Earlier this year I was hired by an insurance company to help investigate an ammunition fire. My role was to help establish fair market value for a large quantity of mixed ammunition that burned. In the process, I learned a lot about what happens in a fire, or at least in this fire. I made lots of notes and took lots of pictures and submitted an article for the IAA Journal.

I believe Chris is going to run it in the next issue, but of course he’s the editor, and it may have to wait. I think you’ll find it interesting.

In the 1930’s or probably earlier, Winchester conducted tests and photographed the burning of large wooden cases, stacked and as a single crate of ammunition to illustrate just how dangerous it was. Those tests agree with the above comments. I think the tests were done to prove the safety for rail shipments.

I’ve talked with several firefighters around here about this and they are not real concerned about it. It seems to be not uncommon to go into a burning house and have ammunition cooking-off near them. The empty cases basicly just bounce off of their bunker coats. Many years ago our biggest sporting goods store burned down. Huge, old wooden building. Lots of ammo cooking off. The fire was so big and hot that the firefighters could only put water on it from a distance. One of the firefighters stated that “empty shell cases” were “raining down” all over the area. I wonder if this was an exageration or if sympathetic detonation of a large amount of ammunition might propel the fragments a distance. Of course, they could have been propelled by other means, such a exploding camp stove fuel cannisters, etc…


Many years ago, I emptied a waste basket into the fireplace, not realizing that a half dozen .22 LR rounds were among the contents. Very shortly, I heard popping sounds and a couple of the bullets made it out a few feet onto the floor. That was it. I would be much more concerned about my reloading powders and black powder going up. I would expect more “action” from BP-loaded cartridges as well.

Really great video!