Fire in the hole

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Blasting machine used in mining

"Fire in the hole" is a warning that an explosive detonation in a confined space is imminent. It originated with miners, who needed to warn their fellows that a charge had been set.[1] The phrase appears in this sense in state mining regulations,[2][3] in military and corporate procedures,[4][5] and in various mining and military blasting-related print books and narratives.[6]

A related theory is that the phrase comes from gunnery.[citation needed] The first cannons developed were discharged, shot or exploded by placing a flaming torch to a small hole packed with gunpowder and leading to the main powder charge. This caused the main charge to explode, propelling the cannon ball to the enemy, or sometimes, blowing up the cannon and all standing nearby. Hence, fire in the hole was both a command to the torch man, and a warning to all around.[citation needed] Over time cannons improved; they became safer, with no hole or fire needed. The command was reduced to fire, while the full phrase fire in the hole became a general warning for the use of explosive weapons. It was subsequently adopted by military forces to give notice that a grenade or satchel charge was being tossed into a bunker, spider hole, or other enclosure. The term frag out is also commonly used. It is not used for all explosions – throwing a grenade in the open is not announced, for example – only those surprisingly close. It is also commonly used by bomb disposal personnel in both civilian law enforcement and the military to alert nearby persons that a controlled detonation of a suspected bomb or unexploded ordnance is about to take place.

Use in media and popular culture[edit]

In amusement park rides[edit]

In events[edit]

  • It's also the name of a chili cookoff in Atlanta Georgia.[citation needed]

In films and television[edit]

This phrase is used extensively on film and TV sets by the special effects department whenever setting off effects charges of any nature (from weapons that fire blanks to a blood squib to huge fireballs). It serves as a warning to the crew that a loud sound is imminent and as a final warning to stop the shot if there are any problems in any department. As an observable example, the phrase is frequently used in MythBusters prior to explosives tests; the explosives technician or another cast/crew member will yell the phrase three times, in three different directions, just before setting off the bomb.

The phrase is also found in many movies and TV shows. For example:

In films[edit]

  • In a deleted scene from Aliens (1986), where Hudson and Vasquez have set up two automated sentry cannons, they use the phrase before throwing out a decoy to test the sentry. The phrase is also used by Hudson in the Aliens movie when a flame thrower dropped by Drake sets light to the inside of the RPC after it has crashed into the alien's lair.
  • It is used in Forest Gump (1994) when Tom Hanks serves as a tunnel rat in the Vietnam War.
  • Jim Breuer's character uses this phrase when he smokes out of a bong in the film Half Baked (1998).[relevant? ]
  • It is used by Stella the skunk in the film Over the Hedge (2006) before spraying the kitchen while most of the main characters are trapped inside.
  • JoJo's character says "Fire in the hole!" in RV (2006) when trying to clear the blocked sewer drain pipe in the RV.[7]
  • In the Omaha Beach assault scene of Saving Private Ryan (1998), the phrase is heard right after Bangalore torpedoes are inserted to breach the German defenses.
  • It is also used by Johnny Rico in the movie Starship Troopers (1997) when he shot an atomic rocket into a "bug hole".
  • Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) uses it to warn her son John before the T-800 blows through a security door of the Cyberdyne Lab in the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).
  • It is used by Agent Toby Lee Shavers (Michael Roof) in the movie XXX (2002), when testing and demonstrating his new explosive to undercover agent Xander Cage (Vin Diesel), in Czech Republic.

In television[edit]

  • It is used by Executive Officer Bill Trainor aboard the destroyer EAS Alexander in Babylon 5 when he gives the order to destroy the Earthforce heavy cruiser, Clarkstown.[citation needed]
  • It is used repeatedly by Easy Company soldiers in Band of Brothers episode 2, "Day of Days" (2001), when blowing up German 105mm guns during the Brécourt Manor Assault.
  • It is used by Jack Hodgins in Bones every time he sets off an exploding experiment.
  • It is used by a campaigner in Boss season 1, when Illinois gubernatorial candidate Ben Zajac disembarks from his tour bus and walks toward the campaign office.
  • It is repeatedly used by Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) in the American TV Series Justified when using rocket launchers or otherwise using explosives.
  • It is used when Skipper yelled "Fire in the hole!" twice, in Madagascar and The Penguins of Madagascar.
  • It is used by Chumlee when he shoots a bowling ball with a cannon in Pawn Stars.
  • The cast of the television series Sons of Guns occasionally use this prior to test-firing weapons they've built or restored, due to the potential for said weapon to suffer a catastrophic malfunction which may result in an explosion.
  • It is used when Plankton yelled "FIRE IN THE HOLE!" in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Frozen Face Off".
  • It is often used in episodes of the Stargate franchise to warn that explosives are about to be used.
  • "Fire in the Hole" is a season 3 episode of The Shield

In literature[edit]

In music[edit]



In OTC products[edit]

  • "Fire in the Hole" is the name of an anti-itch product developed for the US military and found in drug and grocery stores.[8]

In video games[edit]

This phrase can often be heard in combat-related video games, such as America's Army, Battlefield 2, Battlefield 3, Brothers In Arms, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, CrossFire, Far Cry, Half-Life, Point Blank, SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs, Sonic the Hedgehog, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Mass Effect 2, Postal 2, and others.

In spaceflight[edit]

Gene Kranz refers to a file-in-the-hole test as part of the Apollo 5 test flight:

The file-in-the-hole test involved shutting down the descent rocket, blowing the bolts that attached the ascent and descent stages, switching control and power to the ascent stage, and igniting the ascent rocket while still nestled to the landing stage.[9]