Underground mining presents a challenging environment when it comes to to the application of automated fire-suppression systems (FSS). In line with the requirements of the Mine Health and Safety Act, all underground mining operations shall implement a Code of Practice (COP) aimed at improving fire control measures and reducing risk. Such a COP leads to a detailed fire risk analysis, culminating in the necessary risk reduction measures of which automatic fire suppression on mobile machinery forms a key part.

Integrated Fire Technology (IFT) employs the FOGMAKER brand of automatic FSS for all types of mobile underground machinery. FOGMAKER is a compact, misting FSS that is very well suited to low- and ultra-low profile underground mining machines. FOGMAKER utilises a suppressant under high pressure (110 bar) through atomising nozzles, resulting in speedy flame knock-down characteristics and progressive cooling of all components within the overall discharge window (normally a minimum of 60 seconds, according to AS-5062 standards).

Based on our system certification tests from a number of approvals bodies, the volume of extinguishing agent required from a high-pressure mist system is lower than most other FSS foam and powder systems, which results in a smaller overall system footprint. This aspect is important on low-profile underground machinery where space usage needs to be maximised, together with minimised potential for operations damage and/or during regular maintenance activities.

Thanks to the high-pressure piston-accumulator design, our cylinders can be oriented in any direction and still achieve complete discharge. This allows the positioning of the accumulators in small, compact areas with the added benefit of being able to be positioned horizontally (even inverted), which provides a low centre of gravity and reduced projection of systems into working areas.

The use of 8mm stainless steel tubing for suppressant distribution means tubing can be placed on the edges of the machine and out of the way. In most cases, the tubing and nozzles do not need to be removed or tampered with when major maintenance work is being done. The high discharge pressure and use of thin stainless distribution tubing results in ensuring the pressures throughout the system are high and equal, thus reducing system design complexity and maximising atomisation.

With the move to intelligent and automatic FSS in the underground mining space, IFT has over the last five years been working with customers and original equipment manufacturers to deliver a fully automatic, integrated system. This experience gained in the design, placement and protection of the FOGMAKER system and its components ensures minimal breakdowns in this very harsh environment – resulting in best-in-class, minimal downtime attributable to FSS malfunction.

To date, we have not lost a FOGMAKER protected underground low-profile machine to fire, and we are proud of the number of accumulated fire save events.

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