Face of the day

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Tom Dodds screenshot-whaleoil.co.nz

Today’s face of the day is Tom Dodds who is a 22-year-old painter and a keen hunter. He uses hollow point bullets. While hunting he saw a brush fire and, as it was too big for him to put out, he called the Otago fire department. They put out the fire and then sent an investigator in to find out what had caused the fire.

The investigator found a casing that did not match Tom’s casings and concluded that it had caused the fire after ricocheting off two rocks. Unfortunately, he also decided that even though the casing did not match any of Tom’s other bullets that it still belonged to Tom. Tom has been given just three weeks to pay $61,000, all because he rang the Otago Rural Fire Authority to tell them about a fire he had spotted.

To watch the full story on Seven Sharp click here.Still photos, bullet impact(Click the photo to see a larger version. These photos are from the research paper referenced below.)

In research that was published in August, it was found that all types of rifle bullets studied were capable of starting fires in vegetation after being deflected by a steel plate. Fragments of most of the bullets that scientists at the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station collected in a bed of peat moss reliably caused ignitions, specifically those containing steel components (core or jacket) and those made of solid copper. Lead core-copper jacketed bullets caused only one ignition in these tests. Solid copper bullets were the most consistent in producing ignitions at all angles and all targets.

Many wildfires are caused by target shooting, so it is helpful to have some actual data examining how they are ignited and by what type of ammunition. Lead core copper jacket bullets appear to have a low probability of starting fires.

While the military has conducted numerous studies on bullet fragmentation, this is the first time that researchers have looked at the probability of ignition (PI) in vegetation.

This research shows that fires can be ignited by hot fragments of the bullets due to the heat generated when the kinetic energy of the lead, copper, or steel is transformed to thermal energy by plastic deformation and fracturing from the high-strain rates during impact. Lead has a lower melting point than copper or steel, which contributes to the lower PI of lead core bullets.

Probability of ignition of bullets


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