Petition for Modification Docket No. M-95-165-C

In the matter of
Elk Run Coal Co., Inc.
Petition for Modification

Black King I Mine
I.D. No. 46-08230

White Knight Mine
I.D. No. 46-08055

Bishop II Mine
I.D. No. 46-08181

Laurel Eagle Mine
I.D. No. 46-08383

Laurel Alma Mine
I.D. No. 46-08457

Docket No. M-95-165-C

Date Issued: 08/01/1997




On November 11, 1995, a petition was filed seeking a modification of the application of 30 CFR 75.333(d)(1) to Petitioner's Black King I, White Knight, and Bishop II mines, located in Boone County, West Virginia and to the Petitioner's Laurel Eagle and Laurel Alma mines, located in Raleigh County, West Vrrginia.

The Petitioner's proposed alternative method is to install combustible roll-down doors with emergency fuse link controlled, automatic closing, steel roll-down fire doors in lieu of installing noncombustible doors or doors coated with fire retardant material meeting the standard.

The Petitioner alleges that the alternative method outlined in the petition will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded by the standard.

MSHA personnel conducted an investigation of the petition and filed a report of their findings and recommendations with the Administrator for Coal Mine Safety and Health. After a careful review of the entire record, including the petition and MSHA's investigative report and recommendation, this Proposed Decision and Order is issued.

Finding of Fact and Conclusion of Law

The alternative method proposed by the Petitioner as amended by the recommendations of MSHA will at all times guarantee no less than the same measure of protection afforded the miners under 30 CFR 75.333(d)(1).

During the process of investigating and evaluating this petition and a similar alternative method proposed in another company's petition for a mine working in the same coal seam in Boone County, West Virginian, several issues arose which required supplemental terms and conditions for the proposed alternative method to assure the same measure of protection afforded miners under the standard.

The petition investigators reported that the two rubber roll- down door installations present for examination were installed without the fuse link controlled, automatic closing, steel roll-down fire doors on the inby side of the door framing. The rubber roll-down doors at the other petitioner's mine had been painted with a flame retardant coating (paint) which was identified on the can as having a flame-spread index of 25 or less. The use of this flame retardant as a means of complying with the standard presents two serious problems.

First, MSHA requires that applying flame retardant coating to the exposed surfaces of the combustible material(s) used in constructing ventilation controls will result in a composite material which approximates a ventilation control that will continue to serve its intended function for 1hour when subjected to a fire, as when tested using ASTM El 19-88 time/temperature heat input or equivalent similar to the 1 hour fire. MSHA knows of no paint/coating material that will effectively adhere to flame resistant conveyor belt type material. All such materials have been observed to crack, flake and fall off of conveyor belt type material when repeatedly flexed as are the rubber roll-down doors when used to control air flow within an air course and to facilitate travel of rail mounted mantrips and materials supply equipment in and out of the mine several time daily. In addition, MSHA technical support personnel have observed that when such fire retardant paints/coatings on conveyor belt type materials are exposed to fire or even higher levels of indirect heat, the belt material off-gases, loosening and bubbling the coating well before a self sustaining fire is observed.

Secondly, should a coating material be developed which will adhere to rubber roll doors, that coating material must have been tested in accordance with ASTM E162-87, Standard Test Method for Surface Flammability of Materials Using A Radiant Heat Energy Source. That ASTM standard includes under section 5. Test Specimens, subsections 5.2 which states "Materials intended to be applied to a substance shall be tested on that substance." and subsection 5.5 states "Opaque sheet materials up to 1/16-in. (1.6-mm) thickness, and liquid films such as paints, etc. intended for application to combustible base materials, shall be applied to 1/4-in.(6.4-mm) thick tempered hardboard using recommended application procedures. The hardboard shall have a flame-spread index of 130 to 160 based upon a minimum of four tests performed in accordance with this method." Subsection 5.2 was developed primarily for material being applied to combustible building materials such as wood or paper­ bound wall board.

Itappears unlikely that the paint used was tested on MSHA approved, flame resistant, self extinguishing SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber), the material the petition specifies as being that from which the rubber roll-down doors are to be manufactured. Italso appears unlikely that, if so tested, the flame-spread index will be 25 or less. In any event, the use of a flame retardant paint is not an acceptable means of compliance unless the mine operator can substantiate from the paint/fire retardant manufacturer that the paint was successfully tested on a substance to which it is being applied in the mine.

For the above reasons, MSHA has added terms and conditions which require that rubber roll-down door can not be used except in conjunction with the fuse link controlled, automatic closing, steel roll-down fire doors. In addition, additional terms and conditions are included to assure ongoing special attention to examination, testing and maintenance of those fire doors. Finally, provisions are included to assure that the fuse links employed will respond to temperature rise on either side of the door framing and that where these installations are used all personnel are trained in their proper installation, operation and maintenance.

On the basis of the petition and the findings of MSHA's investigation, Elk Run Coal Company, Inc. is granted a modification of the application of 30 CFR 75.333(d)(l) to its White Knight, Bishop II, Laurel Eagle and Laurel Alma mines, conditioned upon compliance with the terms and conditions set out below.


Wherefore, pursuant to the authority delegated by the Secretary of Labor to the Administrator for Coal Mine Safety and Health, and pursuant to Section lOl(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, 30 U.S.C., sec. 811(c), it is ordered that Elk Run Coal, lnc.'s Petition for Modification of the application of 30 CFR 75.333(d)(l) in the Black King I, White Knight, Bishop II, Laurel Eagle, and Laurel Alma mines is hereby:

DISMISSED, for the permanently abandoned Black King I Mine.

GRANTED, to the remaining active mines for the installation of flame resistant rubber roll-down doors installed in the same framing structure with fuse link controlled, automatic closing steel roll-down fire doors, conditioned upon compliance with the following terms and conditions:

  1. Each rubber roll-down door shall be installed in conjunction with a fuse link controlled, automatic closing, steel roll-down fire door. The partition, door framing(s), guides and other hardware used in the installation of these doors shall be of a noncombustible material. Aluminum components shall not used in these installations. The rubber curtain used in the rubber roll-down door shall be composed of MSHA/EM&R approved, flame resistant, self extinguishing SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber) material.

  2. Each roll-down door installation (rubber roll-down door and steel roll-down door pair as described in paragraph 1) shall be installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturers' recommendations. The installation instructions, installation and design drawings and recommendations shall be maintained at the mine and shall be available at all times for examination by personnel installing, testing or maintaining the installations and Authorized Representatives of the Secretary of Labor.

  3. Each roll-down door installation (rubber roll-down door and steel roll-down door pair as describe in paragraph 1) shall be installed with an identical roll-down door installation to form an air-lock pair. Each of the door shall be of a design consistent with the atmospheric pressure differential across the door when only one of the air-lock pair doors is closed.

  4. Where the rubber roll-door is electrically powered and utilizes electrical controls, the control circuit(s) of the air-lock pair shall be interlocked such that only one door can be open at any time. In addition, warning lights shall be provided which indicate when either door is open and when both doors are in a closed position. The warning lights showing the doors open or closed status shall be visible from either side of each door.

  5. The interlocked electrical control circuit(s) shall prevent either rubber roll door from being opened if either fuse link controlled, automatic closing steel roll-down fire door is in a closed/descended position and shall activate a warning signal that a fire door has close.

  6. Where the rubber roll-down door installation utilizes manual power for opening and closing and no electrical operating controls are present to be interlocked, the separation between air lock pairs shall not exceed 300-feet such that visual confirmation that only one door is open at any given time is achieved.

  7. Each rubber roll-down door installation shall be operated and examined and each fuse-lick controlled, automatic closing, steel roll-down fire door visually examined during each preshift examination conducted in accordance with 30 CFR 75.360. Any damage, nonfunctional warning lights or operating problems associated with the installation(s) shall be reported and deficiency corrected during the oncoming shift.

  8. Each fuse-link controlled, automatic closing, steel roll-down fire door shall receive a functional automatic closing test monthly using the manufacturers' recommended procedures. The testing shall include examining and confirmation that the installed/reinstalled fuse-links are a soft metal fuse rated to break when temperatures

    exceed 165-degrees Fahrenheit. The results of those tests and any required repairs or corrective actions taken to assure function during an emergency shall be recorded with the results of the appropriate weekly electrical examination of the electrical equipment conducted in accordance 30 CFR 75.512. In the event of any malfunction or damage to the rubber door, the metal door will be closed and/or manually operated while the malfunction is corrected.

  9. This Proposed Decision and Order (PDO) shall not be implemented until all personnel employed to install, recover and reinstall, visually examine, perform repairs or maintenance or conduct functional tests on roll-down door installations (as described in paragraphs above) shall be qualified to do so by receiving task training in the manufacturers' recommendations and the this PDO.

  10. Within 60 days after this Proposed Decision and Older (PDO) becomes final, the Petitioner shall submit proposed revisions for its approved 30 CFR Part 48 training plan to the Coal Mine Safety and Health District Manager.. These proposed revisions shall specify initial and refresher training regarding the terms and conditions of this PDO.

Any party to this action desiring a hearing on this matter must file in accordance with 30 CFR 44.14, within 30 days. The request for hearing must be filed with the Administrator for Coal Mine Safety and Health, 4015 Wilson Boulevard. Arlington, Virginia 22203.

If a hearing is requested, the request shall contain a concise summary of position on the issues of fact or law desired to be raised by the party requesting the hearing. including specific objections to the proposed decision. A party other than Petitioner who has requested a hearing shall also comment upon all issues of fact or law presented in the petition and any party to this action requesting a hearing may indicate a desired hearing site.

If no requeet for a hearing is filed within 30 days after service thereof the Decision and Order will become final and must be posted by the operator on the mine bulletin board at the mine.


Robert A. Elim
Deputy Administrator for Coal Milne Safety and Health