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Effect of air velocity on conveyor belt fire suppression systems

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2010, Vol. 328, No. 1, pp. 493-501

Rowland, J.H.; Verakis, H.; Hockenberry, M.A.; Smith, A.C.


 Four different types of fire suppression systems were evaluated in large-scale fire experiments to study the effect of air velocity on their effectiveness in extinguishing conveyor belt fires. The four different types of suppression system were water sprinkler, deluge-type water spray and two different dry chemical fire suppression systems. The large-scale fire tests were conducted with 1.8-m- (72-in.)-wide fire-resistant rubber belt that met the Mine Safety and Health Administration flame resistant requirement specified in Title 30, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 18, section 18.65 (also known as the 2G Flame Test). Each fire suppression system was tested at air velocities of 152 - 168 m (500–550 ft) per minute (mpm) and 411 - 457 mpm (1,350 - 1,500 fpm). Two tests were conducted at both air velocities for each fire suppression system. Both of the water-based fire suppression systems were able to suppress the fire to the point that a miner could extinguish it with a fire extinguisher. However, the amount of water needed to suppress the fire to the point where a miner could walk up to and extinguish any smoldering belting was greater than the current MSHA regulations required. MSHA regulations only require 10 minutes of water supply for a suppression system. In the test setup, neither of these systems would have suppressed the fire had the water been turned off to the system after 10 minutes. The dry chemical suppression systems produced mixed results. Dry chemical suppression system A did not suppress the conveyor belt fire at either air velocity. Dry chemical system B suppressed the fire at 152 mpm (500 fpm) air velocity, but produced mixed results at the higher air velocity. Details are presented on the large-scale fire test setup, arrangement of the fire suppression systems and conclusions regarding the effect of air velocity on fire suppression system design and performance.