Mining Publication: A Summary of U.S. Mine Fire Research
Since 1910, the U. S. Bureau of Mines and NIOSH has conducted research to eliminate fires in underground mines. Early studies concentrated on the investigation of the causes of mine fires and recommendations for preventing fires, spontaneous combustion, and mine fire rescue, all of which served to improve safety in mines. In the 1950's, research characterized the flammability of gases, dusts, and vapors. The 1960's brought an emphasis on mine fire prevention, the hazards of combustible materials used in mines, and mine fire extinguishment methods. Results from these studies formed the basis for fire prevention regulations contained in the 1969 Coal Mine Health and Safety Act. The 1969 Act also greatly expanded the Bureau of Mines’ role in coal and metal/nonmetal mine fire research. This led to a significant reduction in the severity and incidence of mine fires. The MINER ACT of 2006 placed a renewed emphasis on research in the areas of mine fire prevention, detection, control, and extinguishment. This paper summarizes the highlights of the Bureau of Mines and NIOSH fire research program since 1910 and describes current research to reduce or eliminate the hazards of fires in mines.