Underground mining requires the management of water. It is pumped out to reduce mud and flooding, and pumped in to allay airborne dust, cool the motors of mining equipment and mixed with emulsions to make hydraulic fluid. Another very important and necessary, but undesirable, reason to pump water into the mine is firefighting. Rapid response and aggressive fighting of an underground fire may save the mine, but more importantly, it may save lives. This requires proper firefighting equipment and properly trained miners.
The most important piece of firefighting equipment is not an ax, hose, ladder, fire extinguisher or rock dust; it is an adequate water supply. Mines with large reservoirs usually have more than an adequate supply, but many mines use water tanks for their general duty and firefighting water source. In this case, it is necessary to have the inlet for the firefighting standpipe at a lower level than the general duty water standpipe. The difference in the elevation of the standpipe inlets becomes the firefighting reservoir. Always maintain the water supply in working order. Periodic flushing of the lines and/or cleaning of the tank may be necessary depending on the cleanliness and chemistry of the supply water.
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