Two months after issuing a ruling benefiting industry practices relating to pick bins of fireworks shells, ATF has followed up with a separate ruling relating to approval of wood-only floors for Type 4 storage magazines. Specifically, ATF Ruling 2012-5 sets forth an alternate basis for approval of Type 4 storage magazines constructed of wood-only floors. The relief appears to be designed to prompt immediate action by affected person; bringing to mind the legal maxim: equity aids the vigilant not those that slumber on their rights. Here, haste does not make waste but, rather, compliance with ATF regulations. Let’s take a closer look at the ruling.
ATF realizes that numerous storage magazines do not fully comply with prevailing regulations pertaining to Type 4 storage magazines. For instance, the prevailing regulation, 27 C.F.R. § 555.210 (a)(2), provides that the storage building be constructed of the following materials: “masonry, metal-covered wood, fabricated metal, or a combination of these materials.” (underline supplied). However, the number of buildings constructed of wood-only floors far exceeds the number of ‘metal-covered wood floors’ and, seemingly, ATF has recognized this fact and, accordingly, it has fashioned a solution in the form of an ‘alternate procedure’ that is not contrary to any provision of law and does not increase Government costs or hinder the operation of the regulations. In ATF’s opinion, the solution described it satisfies the 27 C.F.R. § 555.210.
Without explanation, ATF has determined that wood-only floors may fall within the spirit, scope and terms of § 555.210(a)(2) provided the wood-only floor is situated firmly on ground made of gravel or concrete, with any gaps covered by mounded gravel or metal skirting in a continuous and uninterrupted manner; there must be no gaps in the gravel or skirting. As a practical matter, proper drainage would require situating the magazine on gravel or a concrete pad and, similarly, gravel or metal skirting is commonly used to prevent intrusion by animals and the elements. While the costs associated with these additional measures may be incremental for new construction, substantial time and expense is required to make old construction compliant with the approved alternate; this factor is not discussed by ATF. Indeed, the cost of applying sheet metal to the existing floor may be the cheaper alternative. Either way, any additional expense is to be borne by the license holder.
Notably, upon satisfaction of these measures there are no additional requirements; you are not required to notify the ATF, nor are you required to obtain a separate, individual variance approval from ATF. In essence, the measure is self-policing, with one, rather weak, caveat: in the event that ATF performs a future inspection and, in the course, determines that a licensee or permittee had failed to abide by the conditions described in Ruling 2012-5 pertaining to conforming wood-only floors (to satisfy the regulations), ATF may notify that person that he is no longer authorized to use Type 4 outdoor magazines with wood-only floors. Such notification would seemingly leave one with the option of retrofitting at that juncture or, alternatively, abandoning the magazine for such use.
In conclusion, the ATF has offered an alternative for operators presently using storage magazines constructed of wood-only floors. Instead of taking them out commission, the ATF has proposed that the magazine be constructed in the manner prescribed in Ruling 2012-5 to permit continued, uninterrupted, use.