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Inflatable devices for combating underground mine fires.

Conti RS; Weiss ES
MINESAFE International 1998, 1998 Oc;t :388-393
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, conducted full-scale studies in the Lake Lynn Experimental Mine with lightweight inflatable devices that can be used for rapidly isolating underground mine fires. These inflatable devices can stop airflows of up to 1,100 meters cubed/min and allow for fire suppression and/or personnel escape. One device, a remotely-installed bag, was designed to isolate the fire zone and to then serve, as an explosion resistant seal when remotely injected with low-density organic or inorganic foams (never actually tested against explosions). The inflatable feed-tube partition (IFTP) is a lightweight, rectangular inflatable bag that can be used by fire-fighters to rapidly (within 15 min) close large openings, such as those in underground mines, and to simultaneously provide a feed-tube for high expansion foam generators. This allows fire fighting foam to freely flow to the fire site and control or extinguish the fire. Results showed that a 2,800-L/s diesel-powered, high expansion foam generator with the IFTP cold push a foam plug 245m through an entry 2.1m high by 5.8m wide a 4.3 pct rise in elevation, before the foam generator failed to push the foam plug further. A third device, the positive-pressure, inflatable walk-through escape device with its "passthrough" feature, allows extra time for personnel evacuation by isolating a smoke-filled entry from fresh air. The escape device would be strategically placed in a mine entry, and then be either manually or remotely deployed during a mine fire. This device successfully isolated smoke-filled entries from fresh air, and mine personnel effectively passed through the device to fresh air or back into the smoke-filled entries. These inflatable devices have shown merit in providing a relatively rapid method for isolation of a mine fire and for use with a foam generator for fire suppression, or for personnel escape.
Underground-mining; Fire-fighting-equipment; Mine-fires; Mining-industry; Mining-equipment; Mine-safety
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Pittsburgh Research Laboratory, Pittsburgh, PA 15236
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Other Occupational Concerns
Source Name
Proceedings, MINESAFE International 1998, An International Conference on Occupational Health and Safety in the Mining Industry
Page last reviewed: October 1, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division