Submission to ERMA


The New Zealand Council of Licensed Firearms Owners Inc, (COLFO) is the largest recreational firearms’ user organisation in New Zealand. Our members include those individuals in the main user organisations (e.g. Deerstalkers, NRA, Antique Arms, Pistol Association etc) firearm dealers, and a significant number of individuals who are not affiliated to other national bodies or clubs.

The aims and objects of COLFO can be found on our web site at www.colfo.org.nz but principally we exist to:

  • > Represent the collective interests of members through the   preservation of the rights and privileges of licensed firearms users and   collectors.
  • Promote responsible gun ownership, and act as a central reference   point for Government, Police, and the Media.

Several COLFO Councilors and individual members attended the meeting you hosted on January 14th.

Our comments and submission are made as a result of that meeting and relate to the possession, use, handling, storage, transportation, sale etc, of the following substances only:

Safety Cartridges, Small Arms

  • Class 1.4S UN# 0012

Propellant Powders

  • Class 1.3C UN# 0161
  • Class 1.1C UN# 0160

Primers for Safety Cartridges

  • Class 1.4S UN# 0044

Primed Cartridge Cases

  • Class 1.4S UN# 0055

Gunpowder (Black Powder)

  • Class 1.1D UN# 0027

Blank Cartridges - Small arms

  • Class 1.4S UN# 0014

Signal Cartridges

  • Class 1.4S UN# 0405

Our primary interest is with Safety Cartridges, Propellant Powders, and Primers, as those are the main commodities our members use, however some members also have specific interests with the other items listed above.

We see this as an opportunity to ensure new rules and regulations reflect the true risks of the commodities they regulate.

Background

Around 475,000 New Zealanders use firearms each year and it is calculated that they consume between 35 and 40 million cartridges annually.

We do not know how many reload their cartridges but estimate the number to be between 12,000 - 17,500 individuals, almost all of whom are experienced firearm owners and sizable ammunition users.

A small but significant number use black powder (gunpowder) to reload cartridges and muzzle-loading firearms and these people have considerable difficulties in relation to the transportation and storage of gunpowder.

In recent years there have been increased difficulties in obtaining ammunition and reloading supplies - generally because of rules covering the ‘transportation of dangerous goods’ - which we believe to be unnecessarily restrictive.

COLFO position

Our members have always been confused at the requirements for the transportation of safety cartridges (sporting ammunition - UN#0012.)

They are aware that the ammunition they use has virtually no explosive or fire hazard and many have confirmed that for themselves by burning cartridges, hitting them with hard objects and even shooting at them.

It was only by attending the ERMA meeting of Jan 14th that COLFO realised the probable reason for the restrictions on the transport of safety cartridges. In short we discovered that Hazard Classification Class 1.4S applies to items other than safety cartridges, and that some of those items are much more ‘explosive’ (and therefor pose more danger) than safety cartridges.

Safety cartridges (UN# 0012) secure their dangerous goods (explosive) content in strong and durable outer casings (cartridge cases which are constructed of brass or heavy paper/plastic) while other 1.4S items are often only able to achieve their 1.4S classification through creative packaging. More particularly safety cartridges do not explode in bulk and cannot generate explosive power unless constricted in a close fitting firearm chamber.

Perhaps equally as important is that the means of ignition required to fire a safety cartridge (a precise strike by a correctly shaped firing pin) is not readily duplicated in either accident or fire. In either case the cartridge will not develop dangerous explosive energy, as it is not constricted.

On the other hand crushing, sparks, or naked flames readily duplicate the means of ignition of other 1.4S devices (e.g. detonators, primers, fuses, fireworks, model rocket engines, flares, etc). Unlike safety cartridges such devices generate their full explosive power when ignited in this simple manner.

Perhaps not so obvious is that the possession of safety cartridges is also controlled by the Arms Act 1983 which creates an offence to supply ammunition to any person who is not the holder of a firearm license or is not a licensed dealer. (S.43B of the Arms Amendment Act 1992.)

As far as we are aware such extra restrictions do not apply to other 1.4S explosives.

Safety cartridges are therefor only permitted to be in the possession of an ‘approved person’ - unlike, for example, fireworks, flares, model rocket engines etc. It is a further offence for a licensed person to possess or carry ammunition ‘for unlawful purposes’ (S.51 and S.55 of the Arms Act 1983)

Having regard to the above we argue that because safety cartridges (UN#0012) achieve a 1.4S standard in a ‘stand alone’ situation, they are of less risk than those 1.4S items that require packaging to achieve the standard. As a result of that we maintain that safety cartridges should be subject to less restrictive regulations for storage and transportation. We realise that this is partly dealt with in current legislation, regulations and rules, but we feel that this is the correct time to remove some anomalies.

COLFO submits a number of recommendations and comments for your consideration and possible action. These are shown in blue text (and with a L.H border) immediately after or within the ‘explanation’ notes which we have copied from the document; "Part 2: Assigning Classifications and Controls to Explosive Substances"

Page references are to that document:

Ref: Page 9, Control Code X2, Regulation 8.

General public transportation restrictions and requirements for all class 1 to 5 substances

All class 1 substances are prohibited from carriage on any public transport vehicle with the following exceptions:

  • up to 5 kg, per package, of a class 1.4G, UN 0403, signal flares
  • up to 5 kg, per package, of a class 1.4S, UN 0404, signal flares
  • up to 2 kg, per package, of class 1.4S substances with serial numbers UN 0012, UN 0014 or UN 0055 (small arms ammunition and empty cartridge cases)

COLFO submits the following change:

  • up to 40 kg gross weight, per package, of class 1.4S substances with serial numbers UN 0012, UN 0014, and UN 0055 (small arms ammunition, and primed empty cartridge cases)

Reason:

That there is little difference between an unlimited quantity of safety cartridges packed in 2kg NEQ packages and an unlimited quantity packed in 40kg gross cartons. The size of the carton does not add to the likelihood of danger.

As a matter of interest a package of safety cartridges having a net NEQ of 2kg would contain between 350 to 2,500 cartridges (dependant on the calibre).

Ref Page 10, Control Code X3, Regulation 13.

Requirement for explosives to be under the control of an approved handler

All class 1 substances in any quantity (with the exceptions listed below) must be under the personal control of an approved handler, or be being handled by a person under the direct supervision of an approved handler, or secured.

The following class 1 substances are not required to be under the control of an approved handler:

  • small arms safety ammunition, including pre-primed cartridges and primers, of hazard classification 1.4S (ie. UN numbers 0012, 0014, 0044, 0055)
  • airbag initiators and seatbelt pretensioners of hazard classification 1.4G or 1.4S (ie UN numbers 0503, 0323)

The following class 1 substances are not required to be under the control of an approved handler after point of sale to the public:

fireworks of hazard classification 1.3G, 1.4G and 1.4S that are controlled under the Hazardous Substance (Fireworks) Regulations 2001

  • emergency flares and signalling devices of hazard classification 1.3G, 1.4G and 1.4S
  • model rocket motors of hazard classification 1.4G and 1.4S
  • propellant powders of hazard classification 1.3C (UN 0161) and 1.1C (UN 0160) in amounts less than 15 kg
  • gunpowder of hazard classification 1.1D (UN 0027) in amounts less than 5 kg

The approved handler must be competent in the knowledge and skills necessary for safe management of explosives including hazard classification, adverse effects, equipment, protective clothing and safety procedures, precautions to prevent harm to people and the environment, procedures for an emergency, offences, penalties and liabilities; and relevant regulations and codes of practice. This can be gained by 2 or more years active handling experience (under the Explosives Act) or 6 months handling experience plus practical instruction under an approved handler (or equivalent).

We mention that persons who use propellant powders are, virtually without exception, aware of the relatively simple (natural) rules governing the safe use and storage of such substances. They should therefor not require complicated training in this. A person collecting a can of petrol from the local garage is more likely to require education in the handling and storage of that material.

COLFO recommends that ‘a firearms license holder’ could automatically be recognised as an ‘approved handler’ (see Page 16 for more extensive comments)

Ref Page 11, Control Code X4, Regulation 14.

General limits on location of explosives

With a few exceptions noted in the regulations, all class 1 substances must be either:

  • at a hazardous substance location
  • at a designated use zone, or in the case of class 1 category G pyrotechnic substances, in a discharge area
  • at a designated transfer zone
  • on or in a vehicle, ship or aircraft under the direct control of its driver, master or pilot.

With a few exceptions noted in the regulations, a class 1 substance must not be held at a transit depot nor must it be held at a designated transfer zone for more than 8 hours.

This appears to conflict with regulation 13 in regards to safety cartridges and propellant powders.

Given that safety cartridges (and in some circumstances, propellant powders) are not required to be under the control of an approved handler why would they be required to be in an approved ‘hazardous substance location’?

Ref Page 14, Control Code X10, Regulation 21 - 25.

Segregation of incompatible substances and securing explosive substances

Segregation of incompatible substances and materials [Regulation 21]

Some types of explosive substances and articles are incompatible with each other or with other hazardous substances. Storing or transporting such substances together significantly increases either the likelihood of an accident, or the magnitude and type of effects of such an accident.

The category (compatibility group) of an explosive substance provides the basis for decisions on separation of incompatible explosive types. Separating incompatible types of explosives:

  • minimises the hazards by ensuring that substances do not mix in the event of a leak or spill
  • minimises the risk from an accidental initiation of sensitive explosive substances by ensuring relatively larger quantities of less sensitive substances would not be able to be initiated.

Adequate separation depends on the degree of incompatibility and the cost of separation. Some groups of explosives must be stored and transported separately, while others may be stored (and transported) in the same facility (or vehicle) with restrictions on proximity (Reg 21 and Table 1 of Schedule 2 of the Classes 1 to 5 Controls Regulations).

The difficulty in transporting safety cartridges, and propellant powders, is one of the most serious problems that face firearm owners.

Virtually no small package carrier will carry safety cartridges (UN#0012) because such items cannot be transported on the same vehicle as any other class of dangerous goods.

There appears to be no practical reason for this requirement as safety cartridges are neither likely to create a hazard, add to any hazard in the event of an accident or fire, nor mix with any substances and enhance a risk.

COLFO requests that the law be amended to allow safety ammunition (UN #0012) to be stored and carried with other dangerous goods.

We accept that propellant powders and black powder may need to be treated differently from safety cartridges.

Securing explosives [Regulation 22]

With the exceptions below, when a class 1 substance is not under the personal control of an approved handler, it must be secured in a container (magazine) at a hazardous substance location or designated use zone.

This requirement is triggered at above the following quantity levels for the hazard classifications listed:

  • 1 kg for classifications 1.1B, 1.2B, and 1.4B
  • 5 kg for classifications 1.1A, 1.1D, 1.1E, 1.1F, 1.1G, 1.1J, 1.1L, 1.2 (any category), and 1.5D
  • 15 kg for classifications 1.1C, 1.3C, 1.3F, 1.3H, 1.3J, 1.3K, and 1.3L
  • 100 kg for classifications 1.3G, 1.4C, 1.4D, 1.4E, 1.4F and 1.4G
  • 200 kg for classifications 1.4S

COLFO believes that the ‘trigger’ limits for both propellant powders and safety cartridges are unnecessarily low.

We are only able to recall three incidents in which propellant powders have been involved in incidents. (1) Magazine burnt in Christchurch (1970’s) no person harmed. (2) and (3) were similar;- each occurred when a tin of propellant powder was ignited while open and being held. Both resulted in burns.

Propellant powder burns unless constricted and in fact appears safer than petrol stored for lawn mowers etc.

We believe that the trigger limit for propellant powders (UN#0161 and UN#0160) should be raised to 100kg

Please note that the supply of both propellant powders and black powders is often erratic. It is also uneconomical to transport small quantities. There is also a considerable range of brands and powders - each only suitable for reloading a limited range of calibres. For those reasons, shops and individual users need to keep larger than (commercially) desirable stocks on hand.

It is our belief that safety cartridges (UN#0012) should be totally exempt from this trigger - which we believe, is the current position.

We are aware of two instances in which substantial quantities of safety cartridges were involved in fire or accident. In neither instance were the cartridges a contributing factor, nor did their presence exacerbate the situation.

Ref Page 16, Control Code X11, Regulation 26 - 29, 31.

Controls on hazardous substance locations where explosives are kept

Requirement to establish a hazardous substance location [Regulation 26]

There is a requirement to establish a hazardous substance location where any class 1 substance is present for more than 2 hours (other than a designated use zone or a designated transfer zone) in quantities equal to or greater than those specified in Table 5 of Schedule 2 (Classes 1 to 5 Controls Regulations).

These trigger quantities are as follows:

  • 1 kg for classifications 1.1B, 1.2B, and 1.4B
  • 5 kg for classifications 1.1A, 1.1D, 1.1E, 1.1F, 1.1G, 1.1J, 1.1L, 1.2 (any category), and 1.5D
  • 15 kg for classifications 1.1C, 1.3C, 1.3F, 1.3H, 1.3J, 1.3K, and 1.3L
  • 100 kg for classifications 1.3G, 1.4C, 1.4D, 1.4E, 1.4F and 1.4G
  • 200 kg for classifications 1.4S

Please refer to our comments in relation to "Securing explosives [Regulation 22]"

Once again we fail to see a requirement for these trigger quantities and recommend that the trigger limit for smokeless propellant powders should be raised to 100kg.

It is our belief that safety cartridges (UN#0012) should be totally exempt from this trigger - which we believe, is the current position.

Requirements to control the adverse effects of unintended initiation at a hazardous substance location [Reg 31]

The person in charge of the hazardous substance location must:

  • ensure that unauthorised people are excluded from the location and any associated controlled zone
  • limit the quantity of class 1 substances present at the hazardous substance location so that in the event of an unintended explosion occurring, people and the surrounding environment are not subject to more than defined levels of adverse effect. This includes (at different levels of effect):
  • the public and the environment outside of the controlled area
  • persons required to be within the controlled area but not directly engaged in explosives operations
  • the interior or exterior of any building containing an explosives manufacturing plant

To protect against the adverse effects from unintended detonations in areas where explosives are present for only a restricted time at a given location, e.g. ports, airports etc., limits are set to protect the public which depend on whether the explosives are in containerised loads or not (see X17 below).

The requirements of this regulation do not apply to a hazardous substance location if the amounts of explosives present do not exceed the quantities for the relevant classifications specified in Table 5, Schedule 2, of the Classes 1 to 5 Controls Regulations, as follows:

  • 1 kg for classifications 1.1B, 1.2B, and 1.4B
  • 5 kg for classifications 1.1A, 1.1D, 1.1E, 1.1F, 1.1G, 1.1J, 1.1L, 1.2 (any category), and 1.5D
  • 15 kg for classifications 1.1C, 1.3C, 1.3F, 1.3H, 1.3J, 1.3K, and 1.3L
  • 100 kg for classifications 1.3G, 1.4C, 1.4D, 1.4E, 1.4F and 1.4G
  • 200 kg for classifications 1.4S

Please refer to our comments in relation to "Securing explosives [Regulation 22]"

Once again we fail to see a requirement for these trigger quantities and recommend that the trigger limit for smokeless propellant powders should be raised to 100kg

It is our belief that safety cartridges (UN#0012) should be totally exempt from this trigger - which is the current position.

Ref Page 19, Control Code X12, Regulation 30.

Test certification requirement for hazardous substance locations

The person in charge of a hazardous substance location where explosives are kept must ensure that the location has a current test certificate. However, this requirement does not apply to hazardous substance locations that hold only those class 1 substances specified in Table 6 of Schedule 2 (Classes 1 to 5 Controls Regulations) if they are present at quantities less than the levels specified.

The relevant trigger quantities are as follows:

  • 5 kg for classifications 1.1B, 1.2B, and 1.4B
  • 50 kg for classifications 1.1A, 1.1D, 1.1E, 1.1F, 1.1G, 1.1J, 1.1L, 1.2 (any category), and 1.5D
  • 100 kg for classifications 1.1C, 1.3C, 1.3F, 1.3H, 1.3J, 1.3K, and 1.3L
  • 200 kg for classifications 1.3G, 1.4C, 1.4D, 1.4E, 1.4F and 1.4G
  • 1000 kg for classifications 1.4S

It is our belief that safety cartridges (UN#0012) should be totally exempt from this trigger - which we understand, is the current position.

The test certificate must be issued by an approved test certifier and must demonstrate compliance with a number of specified controls, including:

  • segregation of incompatible substances
  • approved handler requirements
  • security requirements
  • notification to relevant enforcement officer of hazardous substance location and provide information on the quantities and types of class 1 substances that that the facility is designed to accommodate
  • requirements to reduce the likelihood of unintended ignition

Ref Page 20, Control Code X13, Regulation 32 - 34.

Controls on intended detonation and deflagration of explosive substances

For situations involving the intentional detonation or deflagration of a class 1 substance (blasting, seismic investigations, avalanche control, film and video productions, disposal etc), additional procedures are required which aim to ensure the protection of people, the environment and property. All intended explosions must be carried out in a designated use zone (reg. 32(1)(b)) and under the control of an approved handler. The requirements include:

  • notification of the responsible enforcement authority (reg. 32(2))
  • managing on-site storage of the class 1 substances
  • excluding unauthorised people (reg. 32(3))
  • requirements for audible warning sounds prior to firing
  • requirements for firing the charge
  • actions to be taken in the event of an approaching thunderstorm, i.e. cessation of any handling or preparation of any class 1 substance for detonation, and evacuation of personnel away from the explosives

There are limits on the levels of exposure to adverse effects for persons within the controlled area who are directly involved in the explosives operations, and for the public and environment, including buildings, outside the controlled area.

The person is charge is responsible for defining the potential or intended impact zones and managing arrangements (distances and quantities of explosives) so that the limits on effects would be met both within the controlled area and at the boundary of the area.

Where the aim of these requirements is provided by another mechanism, such as excluding people as part of avalanche management procedures, those other mechanisms are deemed sufficient.

The requirements of regulations 32(1)(b), 32(2) and 32(3) (noted above) do not apply:

(a) to any place if the amounts of the explosives being detonated or deflagrated in any one firing do not exceed the quantities for the relevant classifications specified in Table 6, Schedule 2, of the Classes 1 to 5 Controls regulations. These quantities are as follows:

  • 5 kg for classifications 1.1B, 1.2B, and 1.4B
  • 50 kg for classifications 1.1A, 1.1D, 1.1E, 1.1F, 1.1G, 1.1J, 1.1L, 1.2 (any category), and 1.5D
  • 100 kg for classifications 1.1C, 1.3C, 1.3F, 1.3H, 1.3J, 1.3K, and 1.3L
  • 200 kg for classifications 1.3G, 1.4C, 1.4D, 1.4E, 1.4F and 1.4G
  • 1000 kg for classifications 1.4S

It is our belief that safety cartridges (UN#0012) should be totally exempt from this trigger - which we understand to be the current position.

(b) to the use of substances of classifications 1.1G, 1.2G, 1.3G and 1.4G in a pyrotechnic or special effects display.

Translating limits on effect to safety distances requires expert interpretation. Accordingly, the Authority is expected to approve codes of practice for safety distances that meet the effect limits in different circumstances. Such codes of practice would need to be updated according to new explosives test data. However, the regulations provide for ‘mixing rules’ which specify how quantities should be determined for use in the ‘quantity-distance’ formula, where there are explosives from different classifications.

Ref Page 24, Control Code X17, Regulation 46 - 50.

Requirements for the transfer of explosive substances

The regulations specify requirements relating to controlling areas at ports, airports, rail yards, etc, when explosive substances are being loaded and unloaded from one type of transport to another. These procedures are associated with situations where significant quantities of explosive substances and articles are being handled, and consequently are at greater risk of accidental initiation than during storage. A controlled area (designated transfer zone) is defined for achieving the limits on effects of any accidental detonations during the handling.

As far as we are aware there is no likelihood of an accidental detonation occurring with smokeless propellant powders (UN 0161, UN 0160) and no possibility of a detonation with safety cartridges (UN 0012)

The requirements of these regulations do not apply to the transfer if the amount of explosives present do not exceed the quantities for the relevant classifications specified in Table 6, Schedule 2, of the Classes 1 to 5 Controls regulations. The relevant trigger quantities are as follows:

  • 5 kg for classifications 1.1B, 1.2B, and 1.4B
  • 50 kg for classifications 1.1A, 1.1D, 1.1E, 1.1F, 1.1G, 1.1J, 1.1L, 1.2 (any category), and 1.5D
  • 100 kg for classifications 1.1C, 1.3C, 1.3F, 1.3H, 1.3J, 1.3K, and 1.3L
  • 200 kg for classifications 1.3G, 1.4C, 1.4D, 1.4E, 1.4F and 1.4G
  • 1000 kg for classifications 1.4S

Once again we fail to see the rationale for these trigger quantities and recommend that where only smokeless propellant powders and/or safety cartridges (UN#0012) are kept the trigger limit for smokeless propellant powders should be aligned with the 200kg trigger.

It is our belief that ‘safety cartridges’ (UN#0012) should be exempt from any trigger as they add no particular danger to usual workplace hazards.

Ref Page 25, Control Code X18, Regulation 51, 52.

Requirements for the transportation of explosive substances by public road or rail

Transportation by road or rail of class 1 substances [Regulation 51]

The regulations also specify requirements when class 1 substances are transported by road or rail, including

  • notifying the relevant enforcement officer of the intended route and times of transportation
  • ensuring that the substance is either under the control of an approved handler or secured to certain specifications
  • ensuring that all requirements are met relating to avoiding unintended initiation or ignition e.g. not exceeding the limits of impact or pressure shock, spark energy or heat that the class 1 substance is exposed to
  • exclusion of unessential personnel from the vehicle/train
  • ensuring that the maximum quantities allowable for transportation are not exceeded
  • ensuring that the separation distances between vehicles in a convoy or rail wagons on the same train are such that in the event of any unintended detonation or deflagration, the pressure shock transmitted to any preceding or following vehicle or rail wagon does not exceed specified limits

It is emphasised that under no circumstances can a class 1.1A substance be transported on a public road or by rail.

Requirements to be met during interruptions when transporting class 1 substances [Regulation 52]

If a road vehicle transporting explosives is required to stop because of a breakdown or emergency before reaching a controlled storage site or a site controlled for use, the duration of the stop must be minimised. During the stop, the substance must be managed according to the requirements for Level 3 emergency management planning as required under Part 4 of the Emergency Management Regulations.

The requirements of regulations 51 and 52 do not apply to the transfer of any class 1 substance (other than class 1.1A) in amounts equal to or less than the quantities specified for the relevant classifications in Table 6, Schedule 2, of the Classes 1 to 5 Controls Regulations. The relevant trigger quantities are as follows:

  • 5 kg for classifications 1.1B, 1.2B, and 1.4B
  • 50 kg for classifications 1.1D, 1.1E, 1.1F, 1.1G, 1.1J, 1.1L, 1.2 (any category), and 1.5D
  • 100 kg for classifications 1.1C, 1.3C, 1.3F, 1.3H, 1.3J, 1.3K, and 1.3L
  • 200 kg for classifications 1.3G, 1.4C, 1.4D, 1.4E, 1.4F and 1.4G
  • 1000 kg for classifications 1.4S

Once again we fail to see the rationale for these trigger quantities and recommend that where only smokeless propellant powders and/or safety cartridges (UN#0012) are kept the trigger limit for smokeless propellant powders should be raised to 200kg.

It is our belief that safety cartridges (UN#0012) should be totally exempt from this trigger - which we understand, is the current position.

Ref Page 31, Control Code I29, Regulation 51 - 52.

Duties of persons in charge of places with respect to signage

These controls specify the requirements for signage, in terms of content, presentation and positioning at any place where hazardous substances are held above certain trigger quantities. In the case of class 1 substances, the trigger quantities (as specified in Schedule 3 of the Identification Regulations) are:

  • class 1.3C, 1.4G, 1.4S: 50 kg
  • all remaining class 1 substances: any quantity

Given that 1.4S safety cartridges UN#0012 offer no explosive hazard in bulk and that 50kg NEQ is around 600kg gross weight (which is easier to understand) we recommend this be simplified by allowing 1000kg gross weight for safety cartridges 1.4S (UN#0012)

We also request that propellant powder 1.1C UN#0160 be included in the 50kg trigger.

Ref Page 33, Control Code D6, Regulation 10.

Disposal requirements for packages

This control relates to the disposal requirements for packages that contained class 1 substances and are no longer to be used for that purpose. Such packages must be either decontaminated/treated or rendered incapable of containing any substance (hazardous or otherwise) and then disposed of in a manner that is consistent with the disposal requirements for class 1 substances.

Comparison with previous controls

There was not an equivalent provision under the predecessor legislation.

Given that ‘safety cartridges’ UN#0012 do not contaminate their packing we see no reason for not exempting their packaging from this requirement. The good quality packaging in which ‘safety cartridges’ are stored, and transported, is very re-usable, and is even re-sold as storage containers for other materials.

Ref Page 35, Control Code EM10, Regulation 21 - 24.

Fire extinguisher requirements

These regulations relate to requirements to have fire extinguishers available in places where hazardous substances are held above certain trigger quantities. The intention of these general requirements is to provide sufficient fire-fighting capacity to stop a fire spreading and reaching hazardous substances, rather than providing sufficient capacity to extinguish any possible fire involving large quantities of hazardous substances.

With respect to explosives, a single fire extinguisher is required at every place (including vehicles) where the following class 1 substances are present above the trigger quantities below (as specified in Schedule 3 of the Emergency Management Regulations):

  • class 1.1B substances: 1 kg
  • class 1.1C, 1.1D, 1.1E substances: 25 kg
  • class 1.4 substances: 50 kg

Comment: It appears strange to propose that a fire extinguisher is not required for propellant powder 1.3C (UN#0161) but is required for propellant powder1.1C (UN#0160) and for 1.4S (UN#0012) - the latter of which offers no fire risk and very little other danger.

We believe that a fire extinguisher should be available in places where propellant powders are stored or transported and we suggest the trigger quantities be established to align with the amounts decided for magazine quantities.

While it is good practice to have fire extinguishers available at all sites (and local body rules require them for commercial sites) we see no special reason for requiring an extinguisher be available in relation to safety cartridges 1.4S (UN#0012)

The fire extinguisher must be located within 30 m of the class 1 substance, or, in a transportation situation, in or on the vehicle. The performance measure for an extinguisher is that it must be capable of extinguishing a fully ignited pool of flammable liquid (50 mm deep and at least 6 m2 in area), before the extinguisher is exhausted, when used by one person.

EM10 (Fire-extinguisher requirements) is not triggered for class 1.1A, 1.1F. 1.1G, 1.1J, 1.1L, any class 1.2, any class 1.3, 1.5D or 1.6N.

Comparison with previous controls

Previous requirements relating to fire extinguishers only applied to vehicles carrying explosives and were contained in regulations 60 and 62(1)(c)(v). These provisions were triggered at quantities of 50 kg and 250 kg of explosives, respectively

Ref Page 37, Control Code EM13, Regulation 42.

Level 3 emergency management requirements – signage

These controls relates to the provision of emergency management information on signage at any place where hazardous substances are held above certain trigger quantities. In the case of class 1 substances, the trigger quantities (as specified in Schedule 4 of the Emergency Management Regulations) are

  • class 1.3C, 1.4G, 1.4S: 50 kg
  • all remaining class 1 substances: any quantity

This requirement corresponds to the provisions for signage in the Identification Regulations discussed above (I29) and the same requirements for content and presentation apply.

Comparison with previous controls

There was not an equivalent provision under the predecessor legislation, although the comments given above (code I29) relate.

Given that 1.4S safety cartridges UN#0012 offer no explosive hazard in bulk and that 50kg NEQ is around 600kg gross weight (which is easier to understand) we request this be simplified to 1000kg gross weight for safety cartridges 1.4S (UN#0012)

We also request that propellant powder 1.1C UN#0160 be included in the 50kg trigger.

Ref Page 39, Control Code TR2, Regulation 4(2).

Specific requirement to track explosives

There is a specific requirement that every time a class 1 substance is imported into New Zealand, the importer must give to the New Zealand Customs Service, before uplifting the substance, written notice of the quantity of the substance, and the date and place of uplifting the substance. The importer must also provide to Customs a certificate signed by or on behalf of, the Authority, to show that the substance has an approval under section 29 of the Act.

Comparison with previous controls

This control is intended to operate as a replacement for the previous requirement, in section 12 of the Explosives Act, to obtain an explosives entry permit for each consignment of explosive substances that arrive in New Zealand. It is intended to implement a similar operational arrangement between ERMA New Zealand and Customs as previously operated between the Explosives Inspectorate of OSH and Customs.

As far as we are aware there is currently no requirement to report the import of 1.4S safety cartridges (UN#0012). This has not been a problem and we can see no safety reason for changing it.

We are firmly opposed to the implementation of this requirement, as it would create more ‘red tape’ for importers and therefor increase the costs of cartridges.

Ref Page 39, Control Code AH1, Regulation 4 - 6.

Approved Handler requirements

All class 1 substances other than those listed above under code TR1 (and also code X3) are required to be under the control of an approved handler at all times, i.e. they must hold a current test certificate.

Test certification system for approved handlers [Regulation 4]

This control relates to test certificate requirements for approved handlers. Test certificates are a formal means of certifying that a person has met the competency requirements specified by regulation 5 (of the Personnel Qualification Regulations) with respect to handling specific hazardous substances e.g. class 1 substances. The test certificate must state the name and contact details of the approved handler and include details of the types substances (and phases of the lifecycle) that the certificate applies to. Generally, a test certificate as an approved handler will remain valid for a period of 5 years from the date of issue, but regulation 6 (of the Personnel Qualification Regulations) provides for a transitional provision where test certificates can be issued for a period of 2 years.

Competency (knowledge and skill) requirements of approved handlers [Regulation 5]

This control prescribes the competency requirements of approved handlers. With regards to the class 1 substances for which he/she is to be an approved handler, the person must be able to:

explain the hazard classifications and the adverse effects that could be caused by any of the class 1 substances or properties

know and describe the controls imposed under the Act that are relevant to the class 1 substances handled

generally explain their obligations and liabilities under the Act

explain which regulations and codes of practice apply, and know how to access the relevant information

know and describe any conditions of their approved handler certification

explain the precautions required to prevent injury to a person or damage to the environment and the procedures to respond to an emergency

In addition, the person must have comprehensive practical experience and have demonstrated the practical skills to be able to handle class 1 substances. This includes being able to demonstrate a working knowledge of the operating procedures (including use of protective clothing and equipment) necessary to manage those class 1 substance(s) relevant to their approved handler certification.

In deciding on whether to issue a test certificate as an approved handler, a test certifier may use a written record, signed by a training course provider or a work supervisor, describing the assessment method and the results of this assessment, as sufficient evidence that a person has the required knowledge and skills.

Transitional qualification for approved handlers [Regulation 6]

With regards to class 1 substances, there is provision for test certificates to be issued to existing handlers without the requirement to initially demonstrate the knowledge and skills listed above. A person who can provide evidence of handling class 1 substances for at least two years under the Explosives Act 1957 or Health and Safety in Employment Act may be issued a test certificate for a period of 2 years and continue to handle those class 1 substances in the relevant lifecycle phase(s). The intent of this provision is to allow existing handling activities to continue as usual with the understanding that, during the 2-year period after the regulations take effect for those substances, those persons would obtain the necessary training to meet the competency requirements of the HSNO legislation.

Comparison with previous controls

The requirement for persons involved with explosives to be suitably competent and experienced was present, in general terms, in many places in the predecessor legislation. Some typical requirements appeared in section 17(2)(b) of the Explosives Act in regard to the manufacture of explosives, in section 24(4) in relation to the sale of explosives, in section 37 in relation to the employment of young persons in danger buildings, in section 40(1) in relation to licences to carry explosives, in section 44 in relation to handling explosives, and in section 52(3) in relation to licences being personal to the licence-holder and not transferable to other persons. More specific provisions relating to competency of personnel were contained in regulations 48 and 74(b) of the Explosives Regulations. Regulation 75 of the Explosives Regulations which allowed the Chief Inspector of Explosives to issue certificates of competency in the use of explosives was a close equivalent to the new control requiring persons to obtain a test certificate as an approved handler. Similarly, the certificate of competence as a construction blaster in accordance with regulations 27, 33 and 51 of the Health and Safety in Employment Regulations 1995, and the certificates of competence as a mine shot-firer, a quarry shot-firer and a tunnel shot-firer, in accordance with regulations 16-31 of the Health and Safety in Employment (Mining Administration) Regulations 1996, provide for equivalent provisions to the HSNO requirement for a test certificate as an approved handler of explosives. It is noted that while the Explosives Regulations provision for certificates of competency will be directly replaced by the HSNO control, the requirements under the HSE regulations are not affected, as these regulations have not been amended or repealed by the HSNO Act. This is being studied at present, with the intent of avoiding any duplication of requirements. All of these previous and current regulatory systems for proving competency can be used to satisfy the ‘grandparenting’ provision in the HSNO control for approved handlers.

We have previously noted that the requirements for handling safety cartridges, propellant powders, and primers for small arms, is a narrow field and a very small amount of specialist training is necessary to be a competent handler.

Small arms cartridges can only be lawfully supplied to a person in possession of a current firearms license.

It follows that ‘Firearms Dealers’, and their staff are also required to hold firearms licenses.

Firearms dealers also require a separate ‘Dealers License’, which is renewed annually. This license relates to the suitability of the applicant to ‘deal’ in firearms - it is the dealer’s ‘Firearms License’ that signifies training to possess and use firearms and ammunition.

Propellant powders and primers which are used by ‘home loaders’ to reload their own ammunition are, almost without exception, purchased and used only by experienced firearms users. (Firearms license holders) They are sold through licensed firearms dealers.

Firearms licenses and Dealers licenses are issued by the NZ Police who require that basic specialist training is undertaken by the applicant.

The specialist training is for the most part supplied by the NZ Mountain Safety Council (NZMSC) although the police also recognise a correspondence course through the Open Polytechnic.

Firearms licenses have a life of 10 years. They are not ‘rolled over’ and after expiry must be re-applied for.

COLFO requests that all firearms licenseholders be automatically accredited as ‘Approved Handlers’ for Class 1.4S (UN#0012, UN#0014, UN#0044, UN0055) 1.3C (UN#0161) 1.1C (UN#0160) 1.1D (UN#0027) certification for ‘Approved Handler’

COLFO believes that the NZMSZ and Open Polytechnic courses can easily be modified to accommodate such a requirement.

Conclusion

That concludes our submission.

Please make allowances for any errors and omissions bought about by the short time available to prepare the above.

The members of COLFO are practical users of ammunition and reloading components. We are available to meet with you at any time to discuss practical matters related to firearms or ammunition.

Should you require any clarification or discussion on this submission, or any matters that relate to small arms ammunition, or components for small arms ammunition, please contact the undersigned directly.

Sincerely,
John Howat
Chair
COLFO

OUR SUPPORTERS