Mining contractors are under pressure from mining companies to have their machines fitted with fire prevention systems, says Southern African distributor of Swedish company Fogmaker International’s water-mist fire protection system, Fogmaker South Africa MD John Russell.
“When it comes to choosing the right technology, we are seeing a distinct move by both mining companies and contractors to adopt water-mist technology as the preferred fire suppression system. In fact, two blue-chip mining companies have decided to change to water-mist technology from powder or foam as the preferred fire extinguishing method.”
Russell says the companies are recognising the numerous advantages offered by this type of system related to extended life cycle, low total cost of ownership and, most importantly, safety.
“Further, in addition to fast and efficient fire suppression, the low maintenance system prevents reignition and is easy to clean up and reset after discharge.”
He explains that the Fogmaker triple-action fire suppression system is intelligently engineered to fit in most engine compartments, and the system uses the power of water in the form of high-pressure mist to eliminate oxygen, heat and fuel, thereby effectively suppressing the fire in seconds.
Russell describes this low-weight, low-maintenance system as “simplicity itself”. The system makes use of the purest extinguishant, water, combined with 3% aqueous film forming foam to attack all three components in the fire triangle.
“We call this Fogmaker’s triple action effect.” Using high-pressure water mist, the system effectively suppresses the fire and cools down the compartment to prevent reignition.
Russell points out that the use of water in the form of mist presents an additional firefighting benefit that no other firefighting agent has. “The significant number of droplets, together with the large combined surface area, effectively blocks radiant heat by absorbing and scattering heat radiation, which helps to reduce fire damage within the engine compartment.”
As high pressure and consequently, high discharge speed, is required to ensure that the mist reaches the flames and penetrates the outward flows induced by the fire, the system is fitted with special high-pressure nozzles, he adds.
Russell notes that the nozzles ensure good penetration of droplets into the fire, as well as efficient cooling and oxygen depletion as a result of the respective fast vaporisation and the expansion of vaporised droplets.
“The patented discharge piston allows for a complete discharge regardless of the orientation of the bottle, vertically or horizontally, leading to a versatile installation footprint. “This, together with a compact, neat design, enables the system to be fitted in confined, internal compartments, avoiding hindrance to general machine maintenance.”
Russell explains that, as there is no powder or mess to clean-up after actuation, resetting of the released Fogmaker suppression system is easier and faster than powder or foam suppression systems. “After a discharge, it’s a simple matter of replacing the detector hose and refilling the piston accumulator, thus keeping costs and downtime to the absolute minimum.”
He says every diesel engine-operated machine presents a potential fire risk, with implications for people safety, uptime and productivity, as well as repair and replacement costs.
“This automatic fire suppression system is therefore ideally suited to any industry where diesel machines are being operated.”
Russell confirms the recent roll-out of 50 Fogmaker fire suppression units for fitment to a fleet of above-surface mining machines for a large mining contractor operating at a diamond mine where machines have been lost to fire in the past.
He adds that the Fogmaker fire suppression system will be exhibited at Electra Mining Africa 2018, which will take place at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg from September 10 to 14, where the company will also conduct live demonstrations to show the remarkable effectiveness of water-mist technology.