Conquering one of mining’s biggest hazards

Muster fire suppression systems are used by major mining companies across Australia.

Through its fire suppression system, Muster continues to redefine its product and the industry at the same time, keeping mining companies on track and on pace.

A fire suppression system is up there with mining’s most important safety systems.

Fires can take hold in seconds and the source of many fires is often concealed, meaning there’s not enough time for operators to react.

This is where the Muster fire suppression system comes into its own.

Over the years, Muster has consistently evolved its fire suppression system to the point where it’s become one of the leading systems in the market. And with strong research and development (R&D) capabilities, Muster continues to adopt emerging technologies to improve the product. 

The Muster fire suppression system is certified to Australian Standard AS5062-2016 and continues to be enhanced to ensure it keeps up with the industry’s advancing safety expectations and requirements.

Muster understands the speed with which fires can spread and has created a system that reacts at the first sign of a fire being detected.

Designed with intelligent sensor technology, the system includes a MusterWire linear heat detection sensor and system pressure transducer as part of the detection, monitoring and activation circuit.

This allows the system to constantly monitor critical equipment to ensure mine operators always have their assets protected from potential fires.

Since entering the fire industry, Muster from JSG Industrial Systems has consistently evolved to meet changing market demands.

So, it’s no surprise Muster was the first fire suppression provider to implement a cloud-based design program.

Its Muster360 software streamlines the process of risk assessment and creates a report for the installer and the customer for future reference. 

JSG’s Muster engineering manager Sara Venu says the web-based program is one of the reasons the fire suppression system is compliant with AS5062-2016 – a provision that encourages collaboration rather than isolated analysis.

“We tell our distributors that the AS5062-2016 certification requires all interested parties to be involved in the risk assessment process,” Venu says. 

“This is important because Muster360 requires the customer to accept and approve the risk assessment and identify which areas of the machine are going to be more prone to fire and require fire suppression.”

JSG business development manager Dale Sharpe says the Muster360 software removes a lot of the paperwork from the equation.

“Apart from a fire suppression system needing to work on a physical machine, a lot of paperwork is involved in the background to ensure the system is designed, installed and serviced correctly,” Sharpe says.

“Muster360 can achieve that by taking care of the paperwork involved with the compliance of a fire system.”

Muster360 also enables operators to design fire systems for specific machines and identify the most likely causes of a fire before it happens.

As it’s cloud-based, operators can access the information from any computer at any time.

Muster’s appetite for advancement continues with the upgrade of the system’s diagnostic module, which is sturdier than its predecessor. 

“The Muster team has retained the compact design but made it more robust to withstand tough conditions on a mine site,” Venu says. 

There’s also greater functionality and versatility in the revised product.

“We listened to our customers’ feedback and reflected the changes in version two of the diagnostic module, which now comes with a bigger screen, longer battery life, USB cable for charging and data transfer to a computer,” Venu adds.

The diagnostic module is important when observing viewing relay and activation delay settings, while it also assists customers with fault finding, and checking system pressure and battery capacity.

Above all, it can download event history from the alarm panel, making it much easier for technicians to find faults and conduct repair works. 

“This small module can keep a record of history for up to 120 alarm panels. Technicians can easily find out what has happened, why and where,” Venu says.

The stats don’t lie when it comes to the severity of mobile plant fires in the Australian mining industry.

From the start of 2020 to the end of the January quarter 2021, there were 259 notified incidents of fire on mobile plant at New South Wales mine sites.

Most of the incidents occurred in surface coal operations (73 per cent), while underground metals operations (17 per cent), underground coal, surface metals and mineral sands were also prominent.

The Muster fire suppression system is certified to Australian Standard AS5062-2016.

Muster fire suppression systems are used by major mining companies across Australia, made possible through JSG’s network of distribution partners, such as fire services provider Paull & Warner Resources (PWR).

It is a company like PWR that is at the coalface of the notified incidents mentioned above.

PWR fire technical services manager Brad McCallum says mining companies which don’t use an effective fire suppression system like Muster might not know what’s coming.  

“Miners that don’t use the Muster system may be missing out on the visibility of not only their fire systems but how their fleet is performing,” McCallum explains. 

The real-time data capture that underpins Muster’s improved diagnostics module is also a huge bonus.

“If something does go wrong, such as a discharge event, the system can be interrogated at a higher level if an investigation needs to be undertaken,” McCallum says. 

“It gives us the ability to have great visibility on assets and being able to look at historical information to give an accurate snapshot. We can find out why the system is discharging depending on a certain point of time.”

Fires can potentially lead to site-wide shutdowns, productivity losses and even fatalities in the most serious of cases. 

The possibilities of fire should never be underestimated and the importance of a fire suppression system shouldn’t be underplayed.

With the Muster fire suppression system, mining operations can anticipate fires before they occur, and save thousands, if not millions, of dollars in the process. 

This article appears in the November issue of Safe To Work.

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