Contrary to Hollywood mythology, bombs, vehicles, wartime ordinance and homemade guerrilla weapons do not all explode the same way, in huge billowing clouds of theatrical fire that can be easily outrun on foot (as long as you're the main character and/or the comedic relief). In fact, explosives are so dangerous and need to be treated with such respect that the government has given them different classifications according to the type of explosion they'll produce.
The most dangerous kind of explosive, Division 1.1 explosives, are charged with potential for what is called a mass explosion. A mass explosion occurs when the entire explosive material is affected all at once, creating a massive concussive blast.
In a mass explosion scenario, much more damage is done from the pressure of the explosion and the concussive blast itself than flying shrapnel or fire. These explosives are extremely volatile and prone to accidental ignition.
Division 1.2 explosives are a non-mass category of explosives. This simply means that, if ignited, the explosion will not consume the entire mass of the material all at once, but rather in smaller pockets.
While this creates a less devastating concussive wave, this type of explosive also creates shrapnel fragments, which can consist of local detritus, the container the explosive is stored in, and even pieces of the explosive itself. These explosives are extremely volatile and prone to accidental ignition.
Division 1.3 explosives do not have any sort of mass-explosion hazard, and as such cannot be used to create damaging concussive blasts or air pressure reactions.
However, unlike Division 1.1 and 1.2 explosives, these have a fire hazard piled atop their risk for accidental ignition, as well as possible shrapnel expulsion. They aren't as volatile as other explosives, but accidental ignition is not unheard of.
This class of explosives presents a very limited mass-explosion hazard, as they create no shrapnel of any kind, and the explosives themselves are very low-sensitivity. More often than not, the explosion will be contained by the package the explosive resides in, and these explosives can be transported relatively safely.
This is a very insensitive class of explosives, unlikely to explode entirely even under direct heat exposure such as fire. They can be transported safely under basic safety protocols. They present a limited mass-explosion hazard only under extraordinary circumstances.
This class denotes extremely insensitive explosive material which has virtually a zero-percent chance of accidental detonation, even under extreme circumstances. Division 1.6 explosives present no mass-explosion or shrapnel dangers, and are easily transportable with minimal safety precautions.
- Photo Credit Chemical explosion image by Edwar Xie from Fotolia.com
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