While ammunition exploding in the heat of a fire generally poses little to no risk to bystanders or firefighters, loaded firearms do. Case in point…a firearm that cooked off during recent house fire ground in Willard, Wisconsin, critically injured a firefighter.
Guns almost always discharge after the user pulls the trigger. However, in cases where the chamber temperate reaches several hundred degrees, there is a potential for the extreme heat to detonate the primer (because of heat, not impact), causing the gun to discharge.
In this case, that “cooking off” due to high temperature injured firefighter Justin Fredrickson, 35. He has since undergone multiple surgeries, and is expected to recover from the harrowing experience.
From madison.com . . .
Justin Fredrickson was extinguishing a house fire near Sheldon on Feb. 19 when he suddenly felt a pain in his stomach, according to Cornell Area Fire Chief Dennis Klass.
“He was spraying water and he felt like he was hit in the stomach by a two-by-four,” Klass said Wednesday.
Fredrickson, 35, was wearing full turnout gear. He started to remove the clothing, to discover he had been shot in his lower stomach. Because of the gear, there wasn’t much blood visible.
Apparently, a loaded .38-caliber pistol within the house had fired, although no one was inside the structure. The gun had become so hot due to conditions from the blaze it began to fire rounds.
“There were four, five rounds that were fired,” Klass said. The bullets traveled through an exterior wall, including the one that struck Fredrickson. “This is just a freak accident. It could have happened to anybody.”
Fortunately, it appears that Fredrickson will recover.
This story should provides an argument for the NRA’s Three Gun Safety Rules.
#1: ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
#2: ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
#3: ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
Many of us consider keeping a loaded firearm accessible in case of an emergency is “in use.” For the safety of firefighters, maybe that shouldn’t include a bunch of guns in every room. This incident should provide a reason why we shouldn’t store our guns with a round in the chamber unless there’s a good reason for it.
After all, it’s in poor taste to have your guns cook off and wound the very people trying to save your life, your home and your possessions.