Fenner Dunlop recognizes and applauds the skill, hard work and dedication that miners — past and present — have put into providing many of the products essential to fulfilling America’s most vital needs. Despite federal efforts to ensure safe working conditions for miners, they have one of the most difficult, most labor intensive and dangerous jobs that you can imagine. To recognize their efforts, United States Congress has declared December 6 National Miners Day.
Fenner Dunlop proudly supports the mining industry with the toughest and safest fire retardant conveyor belting
Fenner Dunlop designs and manufactures the longest lasting conveyor belting for the mining industry. With over 150 years of manufacturing experience, we produce the highest quality fire retardant, straight warp, steel cord and premium plied belting for all underground and surface applications. Since we are a vertically integrated company, we have complete control over the manufacturing process which results in high quality products.
Why fire retardant conveyor belting?
Fenner Dunlop is the inventor and pioneer of fire-resistant conveyor belting. Unfortunately, it took a horrible disaster to establish the urgent need for such product.
On September 26th, 1950, a tragic conveyor belt fire happened at Creswell Colliery that claimed the lives of 80 miners — a tragedy beyond imagination.
During the day shift prior to the accident, it was recognized that the seven ply trunk conveyor belt near the No. 2 transfer point was scored. A belt maintenance man found a groove about 6 inches from the belt edge on the supplies side of the belt and it extended along the belt for almost 300 yards. In no place was the belt cut through but for a short length the groove had penetrated about two-thirds of the thickness of the belt; but after examination, nothing was found that could account for the grooving.
The conveyor system was started and the belt was inspected intermittently throughout the shift. Arrangements were prepared for the belt maintenance man to stay overtime to repair the belt, but the arrangements were later cancelled as the overman in charge of the district on the night shift found that a length of coal on No.65’s face had not been filled off, and gave instructions for the belt to continue running until the coal was cleared. The belt maintenance man’s last inspection was at 8.30 p.m.
When the No. 3 transfer point attendant began his shift around 11 pm, he examined the damaged belt and estimated that the grooving extended for 200 yards and that about 6 to 8 yards was cut through. He said he was able to push his hand through the slit. Nonetheless, the belt was started. Around 3:10 am on the morning of September 16th, the worker asked for the belt to be shut off because the belt was torn and had a “trailing end.” He began to walk the length of the belt in one direction while a colleague walked the other direction to find the source of the damage. About 400 yards in the walk, he saw a fire at the transfer chute. His coworker also saw the blaze, telephoned for the power to be shut off, and the pair tried to put out the fire using the extinguishers available. But at that point, it was too late as the blaze had already taken too much of a hold for them to be effective. When fire fighters arrived on scene, the fire was very difficult to put out due to a lack of water supply. It was determined by the National Coal Board that the district needed sealed off to extinguish the fire.
After this horrible accident, an inspector put forward the several recommendations to prevent future conveyor fires. This key point was included in the report:
“As soon as they are proven in practice and are commercially available, only belts which are non-inflammable or are highly resistant to fire should be used.” – CRESSWELL COLLIERY CONVEYOR FIRE
The National Coal Board asked Fenner Dunlop, because of its expertise in reinforced polymers, to develop a fire resistant belt. That and its successor products became, and continue to be, a world standard in underground coal mining.
Fire Retardant Belting Today
Because a belt cannot be 100% fireproof due to the carcass construction of the belt, the cover compound is extremely important. There are numerous safety classifications and international standards for which there are many different tests used to measure performance. The basis of most tests involves exposing a sample of a belt to the flame of a burner causing it to burn. The burner (flame) is then removed and the combustion time (duration of flame) of the test piece is recorded. A current of air is then applied to the test piece for a specified time after the extinction of the flame. Under laboratory test conditions, Fenner Dunlop fire resistant belting consistently self-extinguishes more than 6 times faster (in less than one second) than the permissible pass rate average time of 7.5 seconds!
Fenner Dunlop cannot stress enough how important fire and general conveyor belt safety is. We all know how expensive it can be when a conveyor stops but that fact must always be secondary. We can make up lost time but we can’t replace life or limb.
Here are some golden safety rules that are crucial to follow:
- Wear the correct, high visibility protective gear.
- Please make sure that there is always a buddy on hand who would be able to deploy the emergency stop button and summon help in the event of an emergency.
- Always use tools and machines with care and in the way that they are designed to be operated.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Try to foresee potential hazards and point them out to your colleagues even if you think they are obvious to anyone.
- Follow procedure, don’t take shortcuts. Don’t be rushing to have an accident!
- If you see unsafe conditions, bring it to the attention of a supervisor. If you feel unsafe then stop.
- Take extra care in cold or wet weather, especially when surfaces become slippery.
- The final golden rule is to take breaks and stay hydrated.