Posted: 04 Feb. 2022 5 min. read

Mobile Equipment Fires

Over the years there have been many fires on mobile mining equipment. In fact, a study by the Queensland Department of Mines and Energy over a 12 month period showed that of 228 fires reported in this period 71% were on mobile mining equipment.

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Additionally, the insurance industry data shows that for hydraulic excavators at least once every 7 years a fire capable of causing "whole of machine" loss can be expected.

The studies mentioned above have also identified that failure of fundamental maintenance practices are responsible for the majority of these fires. On many mines across the world the Deloitte Specialist Asset Team have also identified failed maintenance practices that have, or could lead to fires on mobile equipment. In all of these cases the failures were due to one or more of the following:

  •  Failure to identify defects with the fire prevention materials included on the machine; eg. fire blankets as shown below,
  • Failure to identify critical defects that can lead to fire; eg. fuel lines, hydraulic lines, electrical cables, dragging brakes,
  • Failure to act on reported critical defects in adequate time including the defects in the previous two point, and
  • Failure to adequately define in the PM inspections, the standard to which the machine must be maintained in order to maintain the integrity of fire prevention equipment.

The Deloitte Asset team believes that the quality of inspections generally reflect the level of importance placed on the "quality of PM inspections" by the maintenance and site management team. We also believe that, in a similar manner to structural defects, there is a need for priorities to be placed on defects in areas that can lead to fire.

This conclusion is also supported by the data from the Queensland Department of Mines and Energy which has identified Engines, Electrical, Wheel Bearings and Brakes as the top 3 critical areas. Defects in these areas should have a higher criticality and machines should not return to work without these being reviewed by at least an additional technician.

Data sources from:
DNRM Queensland
WorkSafe Victoria safety alert: Preventing mobile plant fires

In order to do more to support sites and our clients to avoid these fires we have produced this downloadable document summarising our approach to managing these risks and our processes to stop fires on mobile mining equipment. The intent of the document is to provide experienced based guidance or examples of methods to manage the four elements required to prevent mobile equipment fires. These four elements are:

  • Equipment fire risk assessment and including fire prevention;
  • Subsequent to the risk assessment the development of an equipment specification that includes fire prevention;
  • Subsequent to the equipment specification the documented PM service inspection sheets; and most importantly;
  • Quality execution of the PM inspections, maintenance repairs, and adequate and timely action to correct defects and substandard conditions.

Download our Mobile Equipment Fire Whitepaper

Key Take-Aways:

  • Most of the historical mobile equipment fire risk assessments we have reviewed, focus on fire suppression as the priority, rather than fire prevention.
  • Effective fire risk management begins with identifying all fuel and ignition sources on the machine, then developing proactive fire prevention controls.
  • It is critical to document your equipment specifications, ensure they cover fire prevention, and keep them up-to-date.
  • PM service sheets must include fire prevention tasks with acceptable limits.
  • It does not matter how good the design is, nor the safeguards included in the equipment specification, if the maintenance is not executed adequately the fires will continue.

More about the authors

Gerard Wood

Gerard Wood

Partner, Consulting

Gerard leads the Specialist Asset team within Deloitte’s Transformation & Operations in Australia, which focuses on improving asset performance, reducing costs, or controlling critical asset risks, to bring about lasting change to asset intensive industries. Gerard is an asset management professional with over 35 years’ experience in all aspects of maintenance and reliability for both mobile and fixed plant mining assets, and during this time has also led an organisation that developed a solid client base in Transportation and Utilities. Gerard’s broad hands-on experience within maintenance, from tradesperson to global practice lead, creates a foundation of unprecedented operational understanding within the field. His corporate experience has been across several large mining companies, including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Peabody and Anglo and in many countries including Indonesia and Chile. Over the past 10 years Gerard has helped a broad range of clients including small, medium and large companies to improve their asset performance and bottom line. Gerard is passionate about asset management and practical outcomes for businesses. He has always held a vision for the industries that he serves – “assets are managed across their life cycle to achieve the best business bottom line outcomes and maintenance is recognised as enabling businesses to achieve superior performance”.  

Steve Flannery

Steve Flannery

Partner, Consulting

Steve is a partner within Deloitte Australia’s Specialist Asset team, which focuses on improving asset performance, reducing costs, or controlling critical asset risks, to bring about lasting change to asset intensive industries. Steve is a seasoned Asset Management professional with over 30 years’ experience leading the delivery of transformative business outcomes in heavy plant maintenance and major projects. Steve’s consulting experience covers a broad range of clients and locations across Australia including mining - iron ore, open cut and underground coal and metalliferous, rail, ports and infrastructure. Steve has a proven track record designing, leading, and delivering practical and sustainable solutions for clients covering all aspects throughout the asset life cycle including transformation and change management, strategic asset management, cultural and reliability improvements, project, and shutdown management, learning and development. This practical approach to delivering value for clients is underpinned by a broad technical knowledge and two decades of operational line leadership, honing skills to successfully navigate working relationships across complex organisational structures and the delivery of superior business outcomes.

Matthew Grant

Matthew Grant

Specialist Director, Consulting

Matt is a mechanical engineer and asset management professional with over 20 years’ experience in all aspects of maintenance and reliability. Matt is experienced in the design and implementation of ISO55000-aligned asset management systems, achieving external recognition for best practice in both processes and outcomes. Matt’s ability to develop asset management systems is importantly complemented by his ability to ensure these systems can be practically implemented to deliver real business outcomes.