Mining Publication: Remote Mine Fire Suppression Technology
Underground coal mine fires in the United States continue to present a significant hazard to the safety and health of mine workers. The leading causes of 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 an in-depth program of research to address mine fire prevention, early and reliable fire detection and mine fire suppression and control technologies. One segment of the research portfolio is focused on remote methods for addressing coal mine fires. This research is important because remote methods represent the primary means of fighting a mine fire when conditions are too dangerous to fight the fire directly underground. Technologies under investigation include remote methods for installing ventilation control devices (mine fire seals) and remote methods for suppressing the fire using, the injection of inert gas, gas-enhanced foam and jet engine exhaust gases into the fire zone. This paper presents a summary of remote mine firefighting technologies used in the U.S. and the results of completed NIOSH research.