Mining Publication: NIOSH Mine Fire Research in the United States
During the time period from 1990-2007, there were 1601 reportable fires that occurred in the U.S. mining industry (an average of 89 fires per year). The leading causes of U.S. mine fires include flame cutting and welding operations, frictional heating and ignitions, electrical shorts, mobile equipment malfunctions, and spontaneous combustion. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is conducting a program of research addressing metal/nonmetal and coal mine fire prevention, detection, management and suppression. In the metal/nonmetal area, work was focused on technology transfer and training, and research to reduce the number of mobile equipment fires and their hazards. In the coal arena, research is underway to determine the root cause of cutting and welding-related fires and to evaluate the effects of ventilation schemes relative to the spontaneous combustion risk in longwall mines. Relative to fire management, research is ongoing on remote mine seal installation and remote mine fire suppression technologies. Finally, research is continuing to develop comprehensive and usable smoke management techniques and to develop mine fire growth models, propagation, and suppression. This paper presents a summary of some of the mine fire research and provides an overview of the next phase of the NIOSH mine fire research program.