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Explosives Storage: Classes of Explosives & Types of Magazines…How to determine the best storage magazine for compliance

By Shelley Swearingen — March 31, 2020

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) regulates and establishes guidelines for the storage of explosive items. These rules must be followed to ensure the absence of unnecessary injury, death, or diversion from criminals.

There are three different classes of explosives:

  • High explosives
    • Detonate by blasting cap when unconfined
    • Examples: blasting caps, detonating cord, dynamite, shaped charges, boosters, flash powder, bulk salutes, etc.
  • Low explosives
    • Deflagrate (burn away with sudden flame & sharp combustion) when confined
    • Examples: black powder, display fireworks, safety fuses, igniters, igniter cords, fuse lighters, etc.
  • Blasting agents
    • Any material or mixture consisting of fuel & oxidizer: intended for blasting & cannot be detonated by No. 8 blasting cap when unconfined
    • Examples: emulsions, water gels & slurries, ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO)

There are five different types of storage magazines for the safe storage of explosives:

  • Type 1:
    • For storage of all classes of explosives
    • Permanent structure
    • Bullet-, fire-, weather-, and theft-resistant
  • Type 2:
    • For storage of all classes of explosives
    • If placed indoors:
      • Fire- and theft-resistant
    • If placed outdoors:
      • Fire-, weather-, theft-, and bullet- and resistant
      • Must be affixed to position, but cannot have direct contact with the ground
      • Ventilated
  • Type 3:
    • For temporary attended storage of all classes of explosives
    • Fire-, weather-, and theft-resistant
    • Portable
  • Type 4:
    • For storage of low explosives, blasting agents, & non-mass detonating detonators
    • Fire-, weather-, and theft-resistant
  • Type 5:
    • For storage of blasting agents
    • Weather- and theft-resistant if stored outside

Inspections & Compliance

Magazines must be inspected every seven days to ensure no one has tried to enter these containers without authorization. Permanent magazines (if kept outside) must have a sufficient foundation or metal skirting to prevent access. A magazine stored indoors may not contain more than 50 pounds of explosives and cannot be stored inside a home or dwelling. To store explosives indoors of a business located near a residence, a request for variance must be submitted to the ATF and approved. The local fire safety authority should be notified of the storage of explosive materials for emergency preparedness. Furthermore, the ATF requires explosives to be stored at varying distances to transportation routes, inhabited buildings, and other explosives.

As always, we recommend a conversation with local authorities in your jurisdiction to ensure specific regulations are met and adhered to. We’re happy to facilitate and participate in conversations to ensure your requirements are met with the best and correct storage magazine.

So, what does it take to be in compliance? The mandates are complicated, and violations can be costly. This is merely a general overview of magazines and explosives storage. For additional guidance or assistance with products, please contact the experts at KL Security by phone: 866-867-0306 or email: contact@klsecurity.com.

Information has been gathered from sources deemed reliable but not guaranteed and is subject to change without notice.

Helpful Links:

https://www.atf.gov/explosives/explosive-storage-requirements

https://regulations.atf.gov/555-201/2019-06266#555-201

https://www.atf.gov/explosives/docs/guide/publication-explosives-magazine-construction-requirements-atf-p-540017/download

https://www.atf.gov/file/61971/download