Fire detection and suppression for mining operations

Fully monitored automatic fire detection and suppression

A fire suppression system is up there with mining’s most important safety systems. Fires can take hold in seconds, and the source of many fires is often concealed, meaning there is little time for operators to react. This is where the JSG Industrial Muster fire suppression system comes into its own offering 24/7 integral monitoring of the system to ensure immediate response when called upon. The Muster Fire Suppression System offers both LHD (linear heat detection) and LOP (loss of pressure) capabilities in the detection of fires on mining equipment, all certified to AS5062-2016. The company’s team of fire engineers are eager to render their know-how to address the complex challenges mining companies in Africa face in fire protection.

 Mining companies are more focused on increasing output to realise more revenue from high commodity prices. Inevitably, in pursuit of this goal, they must contend with escalating safety risks that could result in loss of the high-cost asset or worse, fatalities. To ensure the best management of their assets & personnel, part of the Muster support has a detailed Risk Assessment program that can be designed to meet all use of equipment. The Muster 360 system design program also ensures the fire system is designed to high standards under AS5062-2016. Understanding the fire risks helps reduce the impact of fires on vehicles.

The risk of fire incidents

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The area that concerns JSG Industrial the most is the risk of fire incidents to mobile and static equipment. This should be not surprising as the company is very passionate about helping mines mitigate potential sources of fire incidents identified on mine sites. “Mining companies should ask themselves whether or not they would be able to cope should all of a sudden they encounter a fire incident during a shift,” Niel Terblanche, JSG’s International Sales Manager for Africa and Madagascar, states, advising mining companies to treat the risk of fire incident as real at all times.

Prevalence of lapses

The company’s team of fire engineers have been studying trends together with mining companies. Judging from the information gathered, they have noted the prevalence of lapses in the traditional approach to fire mitigation. Particularly, the biggest concern is that these expose mines to the high risk of fire incidents. Mining companies do not always get away with utilising techniques that have shortcomings for a very long time. The fire engineers urge mining companies to regard the likelihood of an accident occurring as a matter of ‘When, not if’, particularly in very hot areas such as turbos & exhaust manifolds.

The inherent limitations of what can be considered as ‘traditional’ fire suppression techniques in protecting mining equipment and its operators are the very risks themselves. Mainly, traditional fire suppression systems for mining equipment use Dry Chemical Powder as the extinguishing agent. Terblanche points out that the technology in Aqueous foams has advanced a long way since the early 1990s, such that these foams are as capable as Dry Chemical powder in use on mobile equipment with added benefits; great cooling effect, no cleanup, environmentally friendly, very low cost to recharge for further use.

JSG Industrial’s Solution for the environment as well as the equipment

JSG Industrial has devised a solution that specifically addresses all aspects of fire suppression & the environment. The company uses a 1% Fluorine Free foam solution with fast knockdown capabilities as an extinguishing agent. On the choice of the 1% Fluorine Free foam solution as an extinguishing agent, Terblanche demonstrates: “It is vital to cool down the risk area as quickly as possible and that is why we use a 1% Fluorine Free foam solution with fast knockdown capabilities, as an extinguishing agent with a minimum discharge time of 50 sec to ensure the fire is rapidly suppressed and entire risk area cooled down. Being Fluorine Free, the solution does not impact any environment where the solution was discharged.

Muster Fire Suppression System

JSG Industrial is committed to improving the quality of technologies to significantly minimise the risks and at the same time protect the operator and the machine. JSG Industrial works in association with Muster, a company that has built a reputation for manufacturing robust easy-to-install systems with 21st-century technology & stainless steel components which demonstrate accuracy in performance.

Terblanche recommends the Muster Fire Suppression System to mining companies based on features and capabilities enabled by meticulous engineering.

Linear Heat Detection (LHD) and Loss of Pressure Solutions (LOP) Solutions

The Muster Fire Suppression System offers both LHD (linear heat detection) and LOP (loss of pressure) solutions for the detection of fires in mining equipment. It is installed to cover the entire fire risk area for effective and early detection of fires, coupled with instant activation of the fire system.

The detection and suppression cover any part of the equipment identified for protection in the risk assessment which is done as part of the initial design. The system is backed up by a fully interactive and fully monitored cloud-based design program.

The Muster alarm panel monitors pressure through transducer technology thereby providing the capability of monitoring the pressure in the cylinder & the integrity of the fire sensor, be it LHD or LOP, every minute of every day. Should the alarm panel not receive the signal from both locations every minute it will go into alarm to highlight the integrity of the fire system has been compromised & requires immediate attention. This ensures that the system is always in a state of readiness for its intended function as a first-line safety system to protect the machine & operator. As the alarm panel has diagnostic capabilities, it provides ease of finding the fault & thereby reducing downtime to fix.

Compliance with international fire suppression standards

Terblanche affirms to mining managers that the system meets international fire suppression equipment quality standards for mobile equipment. “Our system is AS5062-2016 (Australian Standard for Fire Suppression Systems on Mobile Machinery) certified and all designs, installations & maintenance are done following this high standard. Additionally, distributors and installers are fully trained and certified to ensure the standard is always met. We focus on reducing risks to the minimum, increasing safety, and placing responsibilities on authorised people to make sure this is achieved.”

The edge 

Overall, the Muster fire suppression system has the edge over comparable products on the market. It is particularly respected for the following: a fully monitored system, diagnostic capabilities,  it is fast acting, a strong cooling effect, extensive discharge time, flows with gravity to follow pooling fuel fires, and easy to service in the field.

What is more, JSG ensures that the client benefits from the risk reduction the Muster Fire Suppression System provides. For instance, with instant monitoring and the latest technologies, the system has an extended warranty period when the installation & commissioning document is registered. Most importantly, going the extra mile JSG Industrial & their trained technicians conduct an annual audit on the fire to ensure the fire system meets the AS5062-2016 performance standards.

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 Advanced fault diagnosis, improved uptime

  If ever there is equipment in mining that must always work optimally it is the one used for fire protection applications, considering the risks and impact on operations. Terblanche assures the clientele in mining that they can be operating its equipment with a piece of mind. 

 The alarm panel logs all events and this data can be downloaded via the Muster Diagnostics Module for full reporting through the Diagnostic Utility Program. Telemetry and auxiliary options are also available such as external alarms and external flashing lights. In the case of any fault on the system, the alarm panel will indicate this to the operator and by using the Diagnostic Module we can quickly find the fault and rectify it so that the machine can get back into production. 

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Risk analysis before installation 

 Risk is the potential of adverse damage, injury or loss to a person or equipment, asset and/or operation. Before commencing a design, JSG Industrial considers the unique risk that clients face. This is done per AS 5062-2016, which states: “A risk analysis must be carried out with consideration to the health and safety of the operator and passengers, the health and safety of others in the vicinity, property losses, production losses and environmental effects.” 


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