How do you ensure a high level of fire safety at your mine without sacrificing your environmental values? Does purchasing a new autonomous vehicle or battery-operated machinery create new fire hazards for your mine? Does your mine have all the systems in place to meet fire safety requirements? And are your staff trained to use the fire extinguishers on site or evacuate the premises in the event of a fire?
These are all questions that fire protection specialist Wormald helps answer for mining clients. Wormald Australia technical director Justin Morris says the company works at the forefront of developing new systems and products to keep up with the latest developments in mining technologies.
“As mining evolves and new technologies come into picture, we need to be able to respond to the change in fire hazard,” Morris tells Australian Mining. “At Wormald, we are constantly developing new products and processes for our mining clients that will not only provide a high level of property and people safety, but that will also protect the environment.”
While fire protection systems may not play a major part in meeting amine’s environmental safety goals, Morris says it is important they avoid discharging hazardous substances into the environment as much as possible.
Transitioning from fluorinated foam products to fluorine-free firefighting foams is one trend that Morris says has gained momentum.
“Over the past five years, there has been a move away from using firefighting foams containing fluorine after it was identified that the Persistent Bio accumulative Toxic (PBT) substances in these foam scan build up in the environment and have adverse environmental and health impacts,” he says.
“Wormald has taken a proactive stance on migrating to more environmentally sustainable firefighting foams that are fluorine free, without sacrificing the fire extinguishing performance of the product.
“We have already received great response from our mining clients in Queensland – where the use of fluorinated foam is restricted – as well as from clients in other states who are looking to future-proof their systems.”
Another major development has occurred in the area of gaseous agent fire extinguishers.
“In previous years, carbon dioxide was the most common agent used in gaseous fire extinguishers, which are used in environments that are sensitive to water. Today, we have a wide range of gaseous fire suppression systems that are more environmentally neutral,” Morris says.
“For example, the Wormald Novec1230 fire extinguisher can be safely used in confined spaces without causing any irritation to people. Wormald Inerex Gaseous System is another environmentally sensitive product that uses only natural substances. It does not contain any ozone depleting substances (ODS) or synthetic greenhouse gases (SGG),making it safe for people, property or the environment.”
In-vehicle fire suppression systems
Wormald is pioneering the design and manufacture of a control panel for in-vehicle fire suppression systems, which the company plans to launch in the first quarter of 2021.“Equipment like large mining haul trucks and excavators always have a fire suppression system fitted to them. The purpose of that system is that if the engine catches fire, the system operates so the operator can get off the machine safely,” Morris says.
“Wormald’s control panel enables vehicle operators to control that in-built fire suppression system. For example, if you have heat detection sensors in the vehicle and they trigger the controllers, the system will shut down the engine to cut off the fuel supply prior to activating the suppression system.
“We are very happy to be able to use local design and local manufacturing expertise to develop this new control system. Having a locally manufactured solutions allows us to customise our solution to meet each customer’s specific needs.
“We are currently trialling the system on our own products in-house and once launched, it will be available not only to our mining clients, but also suitable for other industries such as quarry and forestry industries.”
Wormald’s 36 Australian branches are in all major cities and a few regional areas. With this extensive network, Morris says the company supports customers across a range of industries with fire safety training, as well as inspection services to ensure compliance with fire safety regulations.
“We are truly a national company as we develop all of our solutions locally. As one of Australia’s leading fire protection companies, we design, install, certify and maintain fire protection systems across diverse market sectors such as retail, commercial, mining, industrial and healthcare,” he says.
“Our dedicated training department regularly conducts evacuation training and fire extinguisher training for our clients. We also have a certification department that can carry out annual inspections to make sure that installed fire suppression systems meet the required standards and all the required equipment are in place and working properly.”