Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.
Transactions home

  SME FaceBook SME Twitter SME LinkedIn RSS Feed

Evaluation of sensors for mine fire detection using an atmospheric monitoring system

Mining Engineering , 2015, Vol. 67, No. 6, pp. 68-75

Litton, C.D.; Perera, I.E.


This report presents the results of experiments to evaluate different types of mine fire sensors in an underground mine environment using a commercially available atmospheric monitoring system. To determine how well carbon monoxide (CO) and smoke sensors respond for purposes of fire detection, experiments were conducted using test fires of different mine combustibles and for both flaming and nonflaming combustion. The experiments were designed to assess the response of fire sensors to different contaminants and different contaminant levels produced from the test fires. The experiments were performed in the Safety Research Coal Mine at the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Bruceton Research Facility in the presence of an average ventilating air velocity of 1.6 m/s (315 fpm). Five fire sensor stations were located downstream of the test fire at fixed locations, with each sensor station consisting of four sensors: a CO fire sensor and three different smoke sensors, of which two were evaluated by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) for intrinsic safety and the third was used extensively in underground mines overseas but not evaluated by MSHA for intrinsic safety. All four sensors were mounted near the center of the entry and in the upper onethird of the entry height. A UL-listed combination ionization and photoelectric smoke sensor was mounted near the roof at the first sensor station and its responses were compared against the responses of the four CO and smoke fire sensors. Sensor response data, contaminant travel times, and the impact of fire on the existing ventilation flow are discussed as they apply to earlywarning fire detection. Of significance in the analysis is the need for performance standards for mine fire sensors in order to provide for consistent and timely early warning of developing fires.