An ammunition dump is a facility designated for the storage of ammunition and explosives. This term is typically used in a military context, as most civilians have limited need for an extensive facility for storing munitions. Most ammunition dumps are designed to be temporary, and they are often installed in the field so that working members of the military have ready access to the supplies they need. A more permanent facility would be known as an armory.
By nature, an ammunition dump is a very hazardous place. Live munitions can present a threat when handled or stored improperly, and safety is of paramount importance at an ammunition dump. Typically the facility is designed to protect people from an explosion, should one occur, with thick walls, a buffer zone surrounding the area, and perimeter fencing which keeps unauthorized personnel out of the area. Guards are usually stationed at the entrances to check people as they enter and exit the ammunition dump.
Care is taken when transporting, moving, and handling the objects stored in an ammunition dump. Storage containers are carefully labeled with lists of their contents and any recommended precautions, such as limitation of exposure to heat and vibration. The contents are also regularly checked against an inventory, which usually includes a map to make things easy to find. Explosives in particular tend to become unstable over prolonged periods of time, so staff may periodically remove unstable material and destroy it for safety reasons.
In addition to the obvious explosives hazard, an ammunition dump also makes a prime target for enemy forces. By bombing an ammunition dump, the enemy can be assured that access to necessary munitions may be limited until a supply line can be established, and the enemy may also be able to degrade morale and kill or injure some of troops stationed around the area. An ammunition dump can also become a liability if territory is lost and the enemy gains control of it, or if unauthorized personnel manage to gain access and remove materials.
If a war zone is abandoned, the precise locations of ammunition dumps can be lost in the shuffle. This can mean that an ammunition dump languishes for months or years before abruptly exploding, especially if it was poorly constructed. In former war zones, explosions of former ammunition dumps are not uncommon, as a search of recent world news and “ammunition dump” will unfortunately reveal.