In the ten months since early September 2018, MSHA has documented nine equipment fires involving Hitachi excavators and shovels and Caterpillar haul trucks, front end loaders and dozers. On September 7, 2018, a miner received fatal burn injuries when a fire occurred on a haul truck and the manually-activated fire suppression system did not function when activated. The remaining eight equipment fires were all reported as non-injury. The manually activated fire suppression system did not function when activated during two of the eight non-injury fires and the automatic fire suppression system activated during one incident but did not extinguish the fire.
- Conduct thorough pre-operational exams and perform required maintenance. Identify and correct obvious fire hazards such as accumulations of combustible fluids, leaking fuel supply lines, cracked or blistered hydraulic hoses, cracked hydraulic hose flanges and connections at the hydraulic pump.
- Install audible and visible alarms in the cab to alert equipment operators to potential fires.
- Ensure that Manual and Automatic Fire Suppression Systems are properly designed, installed and maintained. Follow NFPA 17 and 17A and the manufacturer’s recommendations and include in-depth examination and maintenance.
- Route actuator hoses away from the engine compartment and heat generated sources of fire, electrical wires and moving parts or ensure they are sleeved with a heat resistant fire jacket.
- Provide miners with multiple means of escape to allow safe and rapid exit in the event of a fire.
- Install fire shielding where exit routes require miners to travel past known fire hazard areas.
- Adequately train miners in proper inspection and maintenance of mining equipment and machinery, proper response to alarms or sensors and proper inspection and maintenance of fire suppression systems. Provide additional training in the requirements of escape and evacuation plans and procedures for safe exit during an emergency situation.