August 08, 2020
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Ammunition Depots And Their Safety Needs

India has 24 major ordnance depots. Huge in area, the biggest depot, at Pulgaon, is larger in size than many towns. Maintaining these structures involves elaborate safety nets:

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Ammunition Depots And Their Safety Needs

Smoke sensors and alarm systems: An ammunition depot requires sophisticated smoke sensors with state of-the-art alarm systems which can start sprinkling water in the event of a fire.

Earthen mounds as insulators : This is a must for any depot. High mud walls around the depot prevent horizontal movement of explosives in case of a fire. Thickness and height of the walls depends on the velocity of the explosives stored within. This contains the fire within a limited area and ensures that explosives do not reach adjoining dumps.

Fire -fighting equipment: A depot must have independent fire-fighting systems with a requisite number of fire tenders.

A paucity of fire-engines at Bharatpur forced them to requisition help from the civil administration.

Categorised Storage: Ammunition is divided into four major categories: small arms, inflammable material, explosives and highly explosive materials.

They all have to be stored at a distance from each other.

Concrete igloos: These underground igloo- like concrete structures are ideal for storing explosives.

Underground water tanks: At least 30-40 underground water tanks are a must. They should be interconnected so that water can be used from any point in the depot. The capacity of the tanks should be enough to douse any major fire.

In Bharatpur, the ammunition depot had water to last just for four hours.

Electric wiring: There should be no open wiring in and around the depot. This helps avoid short-circuits.

Grass-free environ: No grass or undergrowth should be allowed in the vicinity of the depot. Tractors should be deployed to trim growth.

One of the suspected causes of the Bharatpur fire was dry grass which led to the spreading of the fire.

ORDNANCE STORAGE INSTALLATIONS:Central Ordnance Depots: Kanpur, Chheoki, Jabalpur, Agra, Delhi Cantt, Bhatinda, Dehu Road, Mumbai, Malad Central Vehicle Depots: Delhi Cantt, Panagar, Awadi, Kirkee Ordnance Depots: Allahabad, Talegaon Dahade, Mathura, Shakurbasti (Delhi), Alipore (Calcutta), Pulgaon Ammunition Depots: Dehu Road, Panagar, Bharatpur, Lalru (Punjab), Bhatinda.

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