Page 51 - Serving on the Mine Rescue Team
ISSUE : Issue 31
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1982/6/1
feet of a fire in a mine on account of the heat that's generated, because the fire's , in it like in a bottle--it's like in a tube. And it's burning--but the heat is what keeps you back, is what poses your worst problem. You can get on the intake side, where it's getting its air from; you can get pretty close to the fire on that side. But on the return side, where the fire is tending, well, you might not get within 2 or 3 thousand feet of that fire on that side. So the only thing you can do with a fire like that is seal it off. You rarely can fight a fire directly in a mine if it's spread, if it's of any dimensions. You can fight small fires. Once a fire gets beyond control, the only thing you can do then is either flood it, flood the area, or seal it off, to cut the oxygen off. Dragermen have to build fire seals, bulk? heads, whatever you call it. They have to build a seal with boards and plaster. On the air return side, only mine rescue teams with breathing apparatus can build that one. Because that's where all the dirt is, on the return side, that's where all the gases are. Coal not only generates carbon monoxide, it generates hydrogen sul? fide, sulfur dioxide--very poisonous gases. But on the intake side, you can use ordin? ary miners--barefaced miners--for that. But there has to be men with breathing ap? paratus when those" ordinary miners start building those seals on the intake side. There has to be a close check kept for car? bon monoxide backing up on them. Even though the air iis flowing away from them, the carbon monoxide can back up. So the rescue team gets right in past where they're working, to make sure with the tester there's no CO. The rescue team doesn't stay there permanently, they check from time to time. And we used the canar? ies for this in olden days, to protect the barefaced miners. We had breathing appara? tus. We didn't care how much CO was there. We still don't care how much carbon monox? ide is there--the rescue team--'cause we're protected. Probably % of VL of car? bon monoxide will knock you unconscious. We work in 3% with the breathing apparatus, So that's I don't know how many times that it would take to kill you. But you're okay, you're protected from the outside atmos? phere. Actually, rescue teams, you could compare them to a volunteer fire department. They're volunteers, certainly volunteers. They're paid a day's pay a month, one day's pay a month, that's all. Now we have those mine rescue competitions down at the Forum. Those guys travel, they come here probably 4 times a week for two months be? fore that competition, to train for that. They don't get a penny for that. Nothing, Do it on their own time. Mornings, when they're working nights. Evenings, when they're working days. Weekends, Sunday, Saturday, holidays. (Why?) I don't know. (Why did you do it?) No, there were no com? petitions in my day when I was a team mem? ber. (But still there was practice.) You only got one day a month, you were paid for that. But the men today put in much more time than that for nothing, to train for competitions. CONTINUED ON THE.NEXT PAGE The Mine Rescue Team goes to the smokehouse, Before they enter, nurses take their pulse. The smokehouse tests equipment and the men • reactions to black, heavy smoke from oily wastes. Pulses are taken when they come out. They go on a brisk 2-minute. walk. Captain checks team again, equipment and e- motional stability, before going into the mine.
Cape Breton's Magazine