Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

F. Mendham, D. Cliff and T. Horberry, A quantitative approach to engineering fire life safety in modern underground coal mines, 12th Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2012, 326 - 334.


Emerging from a history of "blanket approach" prescriptive fire protection design, underground coal mining is rapidly embracing fire life safety analysis techniques that have been successfully used in performance-based fire engineering in the built environment. In Australia, the leading practice fire engineering approach is to apply the International Fire Engineering Guidelines (ABCB 2005) and its methods as a design assessment framework. This approach has recently been used to quantify the performance of mine fire detection and therefore control of fire spread, paving the way for improvements in mine fire intervention and mine worker escape. This paper presents a method of early fire detection using closed circuit television cameras and video analysis software associated with fixed plant fires leading to increased available safe evacuation time compared with contemporary point type fire detectors and gas monitoring sensors. Successful pilot tests of the fire detection technology have been carried out in simulated mine conditions. A quantified and scientifically informed risk-based approach, offering improvements in mine fire rescue intervention and evacuation methodologies was achieved.