Heavy vehicles are the modern-day workhorses of the resources sector.

So, in the face of serious risks because of the long hours they operate in harsh conditions, equipment such as dozers, draglines and haul trucks need protection. However, that is easier said than done.

Given their exposure to hot, dusty conditions, heavy vehicles present a severe fire risk. The engine compartments and braking systems are especially vulnerable, with mechanical and electrical failures accounting for most of the fires.

The Queensland Mines and Quarries Safety Performance and Health Report 2019-20 highlights the danger, stating that fires on vehicles or in plants are the most frequently reported cases of what are called high potential incidents, or HPIs. Other mines around the nation face similar threats. 

Lives and profitability at risk

Although most heavy vehicles have a fire extinguisher on board, such basic equipment is typically not capable of suppressing a serious engine compartment fire. Compounding the danger is the likelihood of such a blaze spreading to other vehicles, equipment or sites, exposing employees to life-threatening scenarios. 

In the past decade, there have been many examples internationally of initial fires on trucks that have sparked more significant blazes near mine entrances, posing a serious risk to employees. 

Apart from the clear risk to workers, such fire damage to crucial equipment can result in substantial downtime for sites and upset business continuity and profitability. The answer is to ensure these heavy vehicles have around-the-clock fire-suppression systems to safeguard drivers and their equipment in the face of potentially catastrophic fire threats. 

Regulatory responsibility

In Australia and other countries, regulators require resource companies and other major resources or industrial sites to have emergency plans in place to handle fires, including the need for effective fire-suppression systems.

These systems are typically placed in the engine compartment of vehicles and machinery or in other combustible areas.

A number of specially developed vehicle fire-protection systems are available to address the particular challenges of high-risk sites. One of the key solutions are linear or spot detection-based dry chemical powder systems, which discharge a dry powder into the risk area to suppress liquid fuel fires. The second option are foam spray systems which discharge a continuous stream of foam water spray that quickly suppresses flames and cools hot surfaces.

Both systems provide fast and effective protection that minimises the consequences of a fire and gives drivers time to evacuate. Quick suppression of the fire can also help stop prevent serious damage to the vehicle.

These fire-suppression systems have a range of cylinder size options. Heat from the fire activates the linear or spot-detection devices, which are located strategically throughout the vulnerable areas of the vehicle. The module then alerts the vehicle operator that a fire has been detected and activates the fire-suppression process. The systems can also be operated manually. 

Seek professional assistance

Fire-suppression systems on high-tech – and expensive – heavy vehicles should be supplied and installed by a specialist business with experience operating on high-risk sites.

Properly sourced, installed and maintained, there is no doubt that automatic fire-suppression systems can protect people, properties and businesses on resource sites in Australia and around the world.

Given how high the stakes are on major mining sites, there is no room for shortcuts, or untested solutions.  

Fires on heavy vehicles such as haul trucks and dozers at mining and other high-risk sites can cost lives and operational downtime. So, there is no excuse for not installing around-the-clock fire-suppression systems to safeguard drivers and their machinery. So, click here to find out more and contact Australia’s leading provider of fire-suppression systems for the resources sector and other high-risk sites.

Also read – Heavy vehicle fire suppression systems drive safety and productivity.


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