Temporary Storage of Ammunition in Emergency Situations
It is important that ammunition collected in emergency situations is handled and stored safely. This advice on the temporary storage of ammunition and explosives is designed to reduce the risk to the implementing organisation and the local community. In emergency situations many different types of ammunition may have to be stored, and a few basic guidelines should be applied to reduce the risk as far as is practically possible.
Storage buildings or rooms should be secure, dry, and without any electrical appliances or supply except for that of lighting. Stores should be in an isolated area without trees and overhead power cables.
It is accepted that in certain circumstances all of those listed may not be achievable but the more of these points that can be achieved the better the storage situation. Some form of firefighting equipment should be close to the store site such as by the doors or the road to the store.
The store should be able to be guarded and have lights around it at night.
If weapons and ammunition are to be stored then they should be stored separately in different buildings or rooms. If this is not possible then they should be separated in different areas of the room preferably by a barrier of some kind such as sand bags or empty wooden boxes filled with dry sand.
Ammunition should be divided into four categories, which are based on the UN hazard Divisions.
Category 1 Ammunition
- High Explosive (HE) Risk
- High Capacity Shells (HE)
- Grenades (HE)
- Demolition Explosives
- Mortar Bombs (HE)
- Rocket Motors with Warhead
- Detonators of all types
Category 2 Ammunition
- Burning and Fragmentation Risk
- Cartridge Cases with Propellant
- 20mm – 37mm He Shell / Rounds
Category 3 Ammunition
- Burning Only Risk
- Bagged Propellant Charges
- Loose Propellant
- Rocket Motor without Warhead
Category 4 Ammunition
- Little or no Hazard
- Small Arms Ammunition (<20mm)
The temporary ammunition categories may be applied in the short term, but every effort should be made to classify ammunition in accordance with the UN Hazard Division system as soon as possible as these temporary categories are not an exhaustive list.
The following guidelines are not a substitute for a storage system based on the best international practices of risk and quality management. (SEESAC can provide technical advice and assistance on such a system if requested).
- Do not mix ammunition categories in the same building wherever possible. If there is only one room for storage then place the items in each category in different parts of the room.
- If it is not clear which category an item of ammunition belongs to then it should be stored as Category 1. There should be no fuze, detonators or initiators left in any ammunition if it can SAFELY be removed by hand.
- Detonator Storage
1.When detonators are stored they should be separate from all other types of ammunition whatever their categories.
2.Detonators should, where possible, be stored in closed metal boxes to prevent any electrical static causing them to function.
- NO mobile telephones or radios should be used within 15 metres of the building.
- Smoking or fires must NOT be allowed within 25 metres of the building.
- NO contraband, in the form of smoking materials (cigarettes, matches, lighters etc), should be allowed in the building.
- All magazines from weapons should be emptied and stored with the weapons in boxes
- Any directional weapon such as a Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) should be placed with the direction of the warhead facing away from other ammunition stacks and away from inhabited areas
- If the storehouse has different types and categories of ammunition stored in it, then boxes of Category 4 ammunition can be used to build a wall between them to prevent fragments initiating other types of ammunition, thereby reducing the risk of a larger explosion.
- Should a fire occur do not enter the store until the fire brigade arrives to fight the fire from a SAFE distance.
Do NOT Allow any Unauthorised Individuals to Enter the Storehouse
This list is for guidance only and MAY be used to overcome most problems arising out of the storage of ammunition and explosives during emergencies. Common sense must prevail and if unsure, guidance from an ammunition expert should be sought. Temporary storage is only a short-term solution, and as soon as is possible all ammunition and weapons should be moved to permanent secure storage.