Designing Ammunitions and Explosive Storage Magazines

Know-how for designing an Ammunition and Explosive Storage Magazine has been closely held information, known only by a small number of engineering consultants. No longer. This new Building Type page pulls together definitions, descriptions, typical features, requirements, drawings, and specifications for Ammunition and Explosive (AE) storage magazines that house explosives ranging from ammunition to guided missiles and warheads, for the Army Corps of Engineers, NAVAC and Air Force.

Earth Covered magazines (ECMs) store AEs and protect adjacent storage magazines from exploding (think of a string of small firecrackers once the first is lit). The Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board (DDESB) sets the uniform minimum AE safety standards for personnel and property in case of an accidental explosion. These standards govern the design, construction and use of all AE storage magazines within the Department of Defense. Links to latest version of DoD explosive safety standards are found on this Building Type Page.

ECM designs fall within three basic structural hardness classifications; with "7-Bar" the highest level, "3-Bar" and "Undefined," the lowest. A design's classification depends upon its relative ability to resist blast loadings. This Building Type Page groups previous ECM designs into four tables. The first is entitled "7-Bar and 3-Bar ECM Approved for New Construction." These designs are currently approved for new construction by DDESB. Table 2 contains existing 7-Bar and 3-Bar previously approved designs for 7 Bar and 3 Bar siting, but not approved new construction. These can be used as a basis for new ECMs, but design approval is lengthy. Table 3 contains Undefined Earth-Covered Magazines (ECMS) that have not been proved capable of withstanding 7-bar or 3-bar loading. Table 4 lists earth-covered and above storage structures and containers previously approved for specific applications and now usable for other applications, though requiring approval by DDESB.

For the first time, this Building Type Page brings together in one place, AE and ECM designs, including descriptions and cross sections, providing greater access to this knowledge. For DoD, this centralized information means lower design costs of new ECMs and eliminates the need to reinvent the wheel, according to Owen Hewitt, Special Assistant for Structural Engineering at NAVFAC.

For engineering firms and general contractors, chances are small that a firm will design or build a new AE, as NAVFAC will build only four projects that contain magazines during the next year. More likely projects may involve existing AEs and ECMs where the ability to identify structure type and its blast resistance is important to the success of the project.

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