1.1. Formation of Mine Rescue Divisions in USSR
The first voluntary mine rescue brigades, consisting of the most experienced and physically strong miners, were established in Russia approximately in 1870-1880s in the coal mines of Donbas.
The establishment of the Mine Rescue Service for the first time was considered under the public pressure on the 17th Miners of the South Conference in 1902. The decision of this congress determined the necessity of establishing of several mine rescue station in the most dangerous mines of Donbas. But such stations were established only in 1907 during the 32nd Miners of the South Congress which has taken place after occurrence of several major disasters in mines, one of which was the explosion of gas in the Mine No.4Bis in the settlement of Yuzovka, where 273 miners were killed.
Three first brigades were established in Makeyevka (Donbas), Kizel (Ural) and Anzhero-Sudzhensk (Kuzbass). The station consisted of the Head of the station, mine engineer, the Deputy Head, team of 10 rescuers and several general workers. 4 horses and a wagon were used to get to the mine in case of disaster.
Besides Donbas and Kuzbass, the mine rescue service was developing in other regions of Russia, such as Moscow Coal Basin, Urals, Pechora Coal Basin, the Far East and Sakhalin.
The benefit of having such teams was proved immediately: more than 50 miners were saved after the explosion of pulverized coal in Rykovskaya mine (Donbas) in 1908.
Miner’s magazine wrote about this: “A rescuer, who enters the mine to save his comrades accomplishes as noble task, as a soldier that defends his Fatherland”.
The mine rescue service was rebuilt altogether with destroyed mines after the Civil War. More than 40 mine rescue stations were established by 1917, but these stations didn’t have fixed staff. These stations were headed by the Chiefs that combined different jobs. The personnel consisted of miners that studied the mine rescuing on Sundays for additionally salary.
The State Mine Rescue Service of Russia was established in 6 July 1922 on the All-Russian General Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars, where the resolution “On mine rescue in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic” was adopted. This resolution initiated the establishment of the professional mine rescue service, based on the principles of the centralized direction.
All mine rescue stations were placed under control of the All-Russian Council of National Economy which were tasked to “… mitigate emergency situations in all mining facilities (mitigation of gases, caving-ins, explosions, fires and floods)”. Such stations were organized on coal and ore mines, as well as in polymetallic mines.
In 1928 the Government decides to create in the Siberian Territory the Central Mine Rescue Station (CMRS) in the town of Leninsk-Kuzntesky, the geographical center of the soon to become industrial Kuzbass. In 1934 the Siberian CMRS, which had the best equipment and was the largest and in Russia and abroad, was put into commission.
In 1932, all 52 mine rescue stations were place under control of the People's Commissariat of Construction of Heavy Industry, as well as Directorate of Special Military Divisions and Anti-Air Defence was established.
Considering the nature of works of mine rescue teams, who work in irrespirable environment and under strict obedience to orders, the Council for Labor and Defence, under the initiative of the All-Union Central Council of Professional Unions, declared “… All rescue divisions to be reorganized into militarized divisions by the sample of militarized guard of the facilities”. The declaration No.25 of the Council of People’s Commissars from 7 January 1934 provided that mine rescuers and their families were to be provided with state benefits and social support prescribed for militarized guard.
The militarization of personnel and the centralization of management of mine rescue service were the key in improvement of efficiency of divisions. In 1933 mine rescuers needed from 5 to 15 minutes to prepare for dispatch, to prepare to descend into the emergency mine, whereas in 1936, the dispatch and response of mine rescuers was only 60 seconds, and the preparation for descend is only 120 seconds. This normative still remains today.
All these efforts stimulated the intensive development of all mine rescue services and the network of the PMR Divisions was increasing rapidly.
The operations were carried out in accordance with the Statute, Regulations and Instructions, the positions of privates, junior, middle and senior-ranking officers were established, such as rescuer, squad leader, platoon leader commander and etc. The uniform and identification signs were established.
But the problem of equipment of the PMRD remained unresolved, as the PMRD had at their disposal DragerVerk-AG equipment that was produced in 1924.
Since 1931 the manufacture of domestically produced breathing apparatuses (RKR-1 and KIP-3) has started. In 1948 new breathing apparatuses RKK-2 (for 4 hours of breathing) and RKK-1 (for 2 hours of breathing) were designed. These apparatuses were in production for 20 years and every PMRU of the coal mining facility of the country were equipped with these apparatuses. By 1960s new apparatus R-12, and later R-12M, R-30 and R-34 were designed. The mine rescuers received the lightest and the most advanced breathing apparatuses in the world.
By 1968, the All-Union Mine Rescue Research Institute was created on the basis of the research laboratories of the Donbas and Kuzbas PMRDs.
1.2. PMRD system in Russian Federation
The establishment of the professional mine rescue services was based on the Article 24 “On resources” of the Russian Federation, which was published on 3 March 1995 to provide protection of operations in underground facilities.
Up until 2010 the mine rescue in mining facilities was provided by the personnel and equipment of the branch paramilitary mine rescue services, such as the Federal State Public Institution “Management of the PMRD in construction”, JSC “PMRD”, the Unitary Enterprise “Metallurgbezopasnost” all of which carried out the same operations – rescue of people mines and mitigation of emergencies on coal and ore mining facilities, as well as on construction of underground facilities.
In 2010 in accordance with the Edict No.554 of the President of the Russian Federation from 6 May 2010, the management of the PMRD was placed under control of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia.
The Directorate of the Paramilitary Mine Rescue Divisions was established to carry out functions as the part of the Central Office of the Emergencies Ministry.
The Directorate of the PMRD directs the Paramilitary Mine Rescue Divisions, carries out efforts to provide cooperation between the units and territorial bodies of the Emergencies Ministry of Russian and develop the basics of the single state policy in the matters of development, training and use of the PMRD.
In 2011, the Unitary Enterprise “Metallurgbezopasnost” was renamed into the Unitary Enterprise “Paramilitary Mine Rescue Division”, into which merged the JSC “PMRD”.
Currently, in accordance with the Order No.677 of the Emergencies Ministry from 23 December 2010 “On efforts to improve the PMRD of the Emergencies Ministry of Russia”, the Emergencies Ministry controls 3 PMRD organizations:
- the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “The Paramilitary Mine Rescue Division”;
- the Federal State Public Institution “The Directorate of the Paramilitary Mine Rescue Divisions in construction”;
- the Federal State Public Institution of the Professional Education “The National Airmobile Rescue and Training Center for Mine Rescuers and Miners” (the Federal State Public Institution “The National Mine Rescue Center”).