Minor Injury to Firefighter Reported from Burning Ammunition

By Dean Weingarten

Fire Fighter
Fire Fighting Heros
Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona – -(Ammoland.com)- Firefighters have known for years that burning small arms ammunition produces a very low level of danger  to firemen.

This is from the SAAMI paper, “Facts About Sporting Ammunition Fires”:

 Ammunition fired in the open, not enclosed in a gun’s chamber, discharges with such inefficiency that the projectile will not even penetrate an ordinary fiberboard shipping container panel at very close range. When not strongly and tightly confined, smokeless propellant powders burn relatively slowly and do not explode as we know they do when fired in a gun. Pressure within a cartridge case must build up to several thousand pounds per square inch to cause the cartridge to discharge as it does in a gun. Unless it is tightly confined, as in a gun chamber, no ammunition shell case will withstand the growing pressure of gases generated by burning propellant powder without bursting before the bullet or shot is expelled with violence or velocity.

Casings propelled by this type of action would likely have to impact exposed skin or eyes to have any effect.  Actual injuries from such fires are so rare as to make the news, even if the injury is so minor as to normally go unreported.

Thus, this news from sandiego.com:

A firefighter was struck by a casing fragment and sustained a minor injury, Rodriguez said. He was treated at the scene and released back to duty.

Treated at the scene and released.   This sounds like a band aid to me.

Firefighters, as government employees are carefully monitored; injuries are required to be reported because of the potential for workman’s compensation and potential pension effects.   To be treated at the scene and released means that the injury was exceedingly minor.

As a wise friend reminded me, there are not enough details to let us know what really happened. I have never heard of unconfined ammunition exerting enough force to “fragment” cases; the “fragment” is not identified, and it is only an on scene report.  One internet forum source reported that he had experience of a fragment that barely punctured the skin at a range of less than five feet from a .22 rimfire case.  He concluded that any other cases were too sturdy to fragment.

SAAMI Facts About Sporting Ammunition Fires

c2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch


About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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unless it is inside of a loaded gun chamber


SAMMI and the National Firefighters Assn. have produced a great video and it is available to firefighters at the NSSF website.

Bottom line you can stand ten feet away from small arms ammo that is on fire with no danger.

TSgt B

Back in the 70’s, there was a study done (unfortunately, I cannot quote a source) during which many types of commercial ammo were ignited while unconfined in a firearm. The people conducting the study documented setting off a .30-06 inside of a cardboard box. None of the fragments penetrated the box, and the bullet was recovered a few inches from where the cartridge was discharged. One correction to the story: modern smokeless powder does NOT “explode”. It BURNS as it was designed, at a controlled rate while confined in the cartridge case and chamber, and is much less expansive when… Read more »


my 5 yo grand daughter calls them boo boos ! I sure hope this dude makes it !!! If hes from a gungrabbing marxist state I sure dont want him to sue the ammo mfgter.