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Refuge Chamber Service and Maintenance: Common Questions

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Common questions and misconceptions about refuge chamber service and maintenance explained. From why do refuge chambers need servicing to...
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There are many misconceptions about refuge chamber service and maintenance—we have explained some of the most common queries below.

Like a car, refuge chambers become inefficient and unreliable; posing a safety hazard to your colleagues if not maintained. Are you aware of the hidden risks of poor servicing?

Servicing a refuge station should not be an inconvenience, and there are several options available at MineARC, including scheduling, training, and new technology to suit your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Refuge chambers can be service by MineARC or a certified on-site technician.
  • OEM spare parts are critical to maintaining the integrity of refuge systems 
  • Proactively scheduling regular service and maintenance helps prevent 

Why do refuge chambers need servicing, especially if they have not been used?

Servicing does more than check a chamber after use; it ensures the life-saving equipment within a refuge bay is in optimal working condition and ready to be used.

Regular servicing is an expense, but, the potential costs and damage of not maintaining your refuge chambers are far greater. Delaying or missing scheduled servicing will fail to identify defects. Consistent servicing prevents easily repairable issues becoming significant problems resulting in a refuge chamber being out of service for an extended period, impacting operations and profit.

More importantly, failure to properly maintain the life-sustaining mechanisms within the chamber means they are not guaranteed to work correctly when they need to be used most. Simply put, if you do not maintain the equipment, you put peoples’ lives at risk.

Refuge Chamber Service Plan Improves Safety - check value service

Can I get our technicians to service the chambers?

Yes, but for MineARC Chambers we require a service certification.

Why is that? Understanding the mechanisms within a refuge chamber is paramount. Without a thorough understanding, essential elements which can affect a chambers functionality and operation over time can be missed, and when needed most, the chamber is ineffective.

You can have your sites technicians safely service a MineARC refuge chamber once they have completed our free, one-day Service School. This certification provides technicians with the knowledge base to effectively maintain a MineARC chamber for two-years before requiring a refresher.

The Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) also require a certified technician to perform the service and record their certification ID on the service sticker. This is also checked during inspections.

Book a Service School

Become certified in refuge chamber servicing with MineARC's in-depth and hands-on training course.
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Spare Parts

What is the difference in spare parts; can't I use what is on-site?

Regardless of manufacturer, every refuge chamber should be maintained and equipped, per the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)’s requirements.

Manufacturers test each part to guarantee they meet the chamber’s safety requirements, equipment, and government regulations, ensuring they are fit for purpose and perform collectively.

Developing an internal policy to use genuine OEM parts is a more effective way to mitigate the risk of poor performance or malfunction.

Do I have to change the spares every time?

Definitely. 

Why? For safety and peace of mind.

Maintaining a refuge chamber’s systems, such as breathable air and a sealed environment, is crucial. By regularly replacing certain parts of a refuge chamber, help ensure the integrity of these systems. 

The nature of industrial and resource-based industries is that they operate in hard-wearing environments. These conditions affect the machinery which operates within them, including refuge chambers.  

Not changing a door seal or check valve to save time may seem like a good idea at the time, but it does put anyone using that shelter at risk. Looking at a door seal, for example, you may not have noticed the slight wear marks when servicing. If you choose not to replace the door seal and the wear mark created a tear before the next service, the chamber may not seal, letting harmful gases and smoke enter, then it’s too late. 

MineARC promotes proactive maintenance and service; doing what you can when it should be done to keep you and your colleagues as safe as possible. 

What is a Remote Service Pack (RSP)?

MineARC Remote Service Packs (RSPs) allow sites to plan and carry out their own regular servicing schedules – conducting performance tests and replacing OEM spare parts as necessary.

A typical service pack includes:

  • Automuffler
  • Vent cap
  • Door seal
  • AC batteries
  • Filter elements
  • Check valves
  • Service report
refuge chamber service and maintenance - remote service kit

What are the government guidelines and protocols I should be aware of?

Without proper maintenance, the capacity for some refuge chambers to support life in an emergency may have been compromised. The DMIRS, a.k.a. Department of Mines and Petroleum has published a number of safety bulletins addressing expectations and requirements for refuge chambers.

The West Australian mining guidelines recommend refuge chamber equipment to maintain refuge chambers according to the OEM’s specifications. As outlined in the Mines Safety Bulletin No. 141:


Contributory Factors

A poor understanding of the critical life support system components in a refuge chamber may decrease awareness of the factors that can affect the chamber’s performance and operational time

Actions required

Maintenance and inspection

- Implement an adequate risk-based monitoring program to maintain refuge chambers in a state of readiness for the duration of any foreseeable emergency.

- Equip and maintain refuge chambers in accordance with the OEM’s specifications.

- Verify that refuge chamber seals and pressure equalisation mechanisms are effective through regular leak testing.- - Ensure repair, replacement or maintenance work is undertaken by a competent person(s).



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