Mobile Equipment Fire Management

Project objective

To provide mobile equipment designers and users with structured information that enables the prevention of mobile equipment fires and the mitigation of the consequences of fire events.

Introduction

Despite ongoing improvements, there is still a high incidence of mobile equipment fires in both surface and underground mining equipment. There is a need to the hazards to be controlled through appropriate designs and management practices. In turn, regulators are requiring mandatory statutory reporting in most mining jurisdictions and now expect that mine operators will improve their mobile equipment fire management performance.

Mobile equipment fire events:

  • Present significant fatality exposure for operators, maintainers and emergency responders

  • Can be catastrophic in underground operations

  • Create wider operational and commercial issues for earth moving equipment owners and operators

This industry project

EMESRT first turned its attention to mobile equipment fires in 2007, when it published an initial design philosophy (DP-4).

DP-4 is a high level overview of problems that can lead to adverse consequences from mobile equipment fire events. It provides visual operational scenario information to assist OEMs in designing equipment to reduce the exposure to and the consequences of unwanted equipment fires.

This project is an extension of the original work carried out in developing Design Philosophy 4 – Fire

This project was motivated by EAG discussions that recognised and identified issues with fundamental original equipment design, e.g., separation of fuel from heat sources and ongoing issues with routine maintenance practices including hot work.

Furthermore, fire detection and suppression systems design and installation are not integrated between original equipment manufacturers and third-party suppliers. Maintenance of fire suppression systems once installed can be ineffective.

The mobile equipment fires management project is focused is on ways to understand and mitigate harm related to equipment fires as much as reasonably practical, including using design to address foreseeable human error.

Fire event taxonomy

Using the heat, fuel and oxygen fire triangle, the technical working group discussed and documented fire event areas of influence using the Control Framework approach. This process unearthed five areas of influence:

  1. Mobile equipment design
  2. Mobile equipment maintenance
  3. Fire system detection and suppression design
  4. Operation*
  5. Local and emergency response*

*Local and site emergency response is out of scope for this project. However, initial operational response to fires, asset operation and site emergency response capability remain relevant to effective mobile equipment fire management.

Based on the above areas of influence, the TWG developed Performance Requirement 4 (PR-4) – Mobile Equipment Fire Management in 2021. PR-4 provides comprehensive information for mobile equipment designers, mining companies, fire detection and suppression system designers, and third-party suppliers and maintainers. PR-4 was published following several iterations, and one-on-one meetings with major OEMs.

It is recommended that DP-4 and PR-4 be read in concert. Together they provide structured and comprehensive information for mobile equipment designers, mining companies and fire detection and suppression system designers, suppliers and maintainers.

EMESRT is committed to making operational site user information available to the industry. In August 2022, EMESRT publicly launched the Mobile Equipment Fire Management Knowledge Hub.

Project approach

In early 2019, EMESRT commissioned the development of a Draft Equipment Fire Control Framework (CFw).

The Draft CFw built was based on industry information, guidance, operational experience and knowhow and included the review of:

  • EMESRT Design Philosophy 4
  • Regulator information from multiple jurisdictions – incident reports, bulletins, publication analysis and position papers, etc
  • Operating site, company and industry documents
  • Research and technical information, eg. incident taxonomies
  • Relevant Standards and Guidelines

The technical working group held a series of workshops during 2019 to examine and further develop the relevant design philosophy (DP-4). A key outcome of the workshops was the EMESRT Performance Requirement 4 (PR-4) – Mobile Equipment Fire Management. The performance requirement was developed using EMESRTs control framework approach.

The design philosophy and performance requirements together provide structured and comprehensive information for mobile equipment designers, mining companies and fire detection and suppression system designers, suppliers and maintainers.

In developing the performance requirement, the technical working group identified five areas for improvement:

  1. Mobile equipment design
  2. Mobile equipment maintenance 
  3. Fire system detection and suppression design – covering design, machine integration, installation and maintenance
  4. Operation
  5. Local and emergency response

Required operating states

EMESRT identified the Required Operating States (ROS) that need to be in place to provide consistent safe and productive mining operations that also reduce the risk of mobile equipment fire.

These required operating states address:

  1. Equipment design that prevents interactions between flammable materials and ignition sources
  2. Maintenance schedules and standards that include specific fire prevention and mitigation checks
  3. Mobile equipment that operates within design limits
  4. Effective local responses to fires and potential fires
  5. Effective emergency responses

ROS-EF-01

Mobile plant design prevents interactions between flammable materials, fuel and ignition sources.

Description

This required operating state applies for all mobile equipment. As required, additional design elements are included for approved for use underground applications This includes fuel, flammable materials and any other items which could combust.

ROS-EF-02

Mobile plant is maintained to a schedule and to OEM standards. Specific fire prevention and mitigation checks are part of the maintenance process. There are no early operational failures.

Description

Mobile equipment is maintained to OEM standards taking into account the operating environment e.g. more frequent maintenance and servicing if required. Maintenance standards extend to third party modifications. Maintenance tasks are well planned and executed e.g. hot work is well managed. Maintenance processes include quality checks before equipment is returned to service.

ROS-EF-03

Mobile plant is operated productively and safely within operating design limits, avoiding fire or potential fire incidents.

Description

Mobile equipment is operated within equipment design limits to avoid generating excessive heat or fuel loads.

ROS-EF-04

Local Response to fires or potential fires on mobile equipment – early detection with effective local response.

Description

Mobile equipment operators and other workers are trained and capable to respond to mobile equipment fires. This includes following site emergency protocols if the fire cannot be extinguished.

ROS-EF-05

Mobile equipment fires conditions are detected and managed before a fire occurs.

Description

Hot work on or around mobile equipment does not cause fires on mobile equipment, infrastructure, or work environment.

ROS-EF-06

Maintenance activities on or around mobile equipment do not cause fires.

Description

Hot work on or around mobile equipment does not cause fires on mobile equipment, infrastructure, or work environment.

ROS-EF-09

Effective Emergency Response beyond local response limits fire losses.

Description

If there is a fire of potential fire on or around mobile equipment, then there is an effective emergency response that protects lives and property.