Posted by Lewis on March 01, 2004
In Reply to: 'Fire in the hole' posted by ESC on February 26, 2004
: : I think 'fire in the hole' goes back to wooden war ships. When cannons were fired they recoiled on ropes fixed through pulleys. If a gun recoiled it could kill anyone standing behind it, in the crowded gun deck. The phrase fire in the hole was called when a flaming torch was put to the powder in the breech. This took 2/3 seconds to ignite and the shout was a warning that the gun was about to fire, and therefore recoil.
: This is the only "fire in the hole" I know about.
: FIRE IN THE HOLE -- Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources online: PART 225 - USE OF PERMISSIBLE EXPLOSIVES IN UNDERGROUND COAL MINES. The shot firer must give a loud, verbal warning such as "fire in the hole" at least three times before blasting.
Mariners did not ignite on-board cannon with torches. they had a stick with a fuse attached - the gunner had a name for this stick (which I have forgotten). they often decorated or carved these wands - one description of it is a 'match-stick' as the word 'match' was used more of what we call 'spills'. a fuse for igniting explosives was called a 'slow match' I recall.