A review of data has identified a concerning increase of reports of fires on mobile plant in New South Wales. The reported fires have generally been caused by either the escape of fluids ignited by the hot surface of an engine, or electrical wiring faults.

Fires on mobile plant are dangerous for the operator when they inhale the products of the fire; are burned by flames; or fall while exiting large mining vehicles. Fires on mobile plant in underground mines can be particularly dangerous due to the enclosed spaces involved, large amounts of smoke and toxic gases and difficulty in evacuating. Risks to workers from fires underground are higher than risks of fire on surface vehicles as more people are potentially exposed to the products of fire. A fire in an underground coal mine has the potential to escalate to a catastrophic event.

The Resources Regulator recognises the need to prevent fires in mines and to minimise the severity of a fire event, should it occur.

Preventing fires on mobile plant

The Resources Regulator has developed a discussion paper [PDF, 291.74 KB] as a first step in consultation about the use and possible regulation of mitigation strategies for the prevention of fires on mobile plant.

The regulator invited feedback on this discussion paper by 14 September 2018.

Discussion paper: Preventing Fires on Mobile Plant - Discussion paper August 2018 [PDF, 291.74 KB]

Fires on mobile plant quarterly reports

Following a 2017 review of incident data that showed a consistently high number of fires occurring on mobile plant each month the regulator initiated a project to provide useful data to industry about fires on mobile plant; to review and update guidance material; and to prepare a long-term strategy with the aim of reducing the number of fires on mobile plant. This is an ongoing project.

A report, In-service fires on mobile plant, was presented at the Mechanical Engineering Safety Seminar in September 2017 that concluded that ‘there is a need to continue to improve the reliability of the fire protection characteristics of mining plant’.

A further outcome of this project was a commitment to publish quarterly data on fires on mobile plant.

In-service fires on mobile plant

The NSW Resources Regulator conducted a review of in-service fires on mobile plant at NSW mines.

The intent of this report is to present data collected from ancillary reports graphically to facilitate industry review. It is hoped that the reader may gain an insight to the broader understanding of fires on mobile plant across the NSW mining industry and prompt a review of the effectiveness of current preventative measures. The report also provides an initiative for the industry to consider a shift of focus towards elimination of ignition/heat sources to drive a step change in occurrence of fires