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MSHA issues safety alert on underground diesel equipment fires

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Arlington, VA — Prompted by a fire on a diesel-powered water car in May, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert addressing fire hazards associated with diesel equipment in underground mines.

According to MSHA, the incident occurred when the vehicle’s automatic and manually activated fire suppression systems failed to function properly. The vehicle had been converted to a water transport vehicle from a personnel carrier. The systems malfunctioned because an actuation hose had been damaged as a result of routing through the engine compartment. Crews extinguished the blaze using a fire hose from the water system near the conveyor belt drive. No miners were injured in the incident.

MSHA offers best practices for fire safety awareness. Among them:

  • Conduct thorough preoperational inspections and perform required maintenance. Identify and correct obvious fire hazards such as accumulations of combustible fluids or grease, leaking hydraulic and coolant hoses or fuel supply lines, and cracked or blistered flanges on hydraulic and coolant hoses and connections at the hydraulic pump.
  • Install audible and visible alarms in the cab to alert equipment operators to fires.
  • Ensure proper design, installation and maintenance of manual and automatic fire suppression systems. Follow National Fire Protection Association standards for dry and wet chemical extinguishing systems – NFPA 17 and 17A, respectively – as well as manufacturer recommendations.
  • Route actuation and expellant gas hoses away from the engine compartment, heat sources, electrical wires and moving parts, or ensure they have a heat-resistant fire jacket.
  • Ensure actuation hoses mounted to removable covers are secured in such a manner to prevent damage from wear and potential contact with heat sources.

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