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A Brief history. . .

While attending the AMC Coal Show in 1962, several notable coal personalities discussed the formation of an organization covering the broad spectrum of coal’s management peoples. The object would be to provide a dinner meeting at each Coal Show for people with a similar background and interests so that they could establish close rapport and exchange news and views. They felt that such a forum would be far superior to the chance associations with peers that tended to characterize the annual Coal Show affair.

In proceeding with the idea, a committee on organization was formed and a constitution subsequently drawn up, mostly via correspondence between the original members. It provided for a membership of “. . .. 20 men and their wives and one meeting at the annual Coal Show.” The number of members has, of course, expanded since that time as has the number of meetings. The first dinner meeting was held in a small dining room of the old Carlton House Hotel in Pittsburgh on Sunday evening, May 5, 1963, with 11 charter members present.

The group adopted the name “Careers-In-Coal” for the club, and for brevity’s sake, this was shortened to “CI-Coal, pronounced ‘sea coal.’”

Our goals. . .

While maintaining its original objective of providing an ongoing forum to air coal industry problems and opportunities, discussions by CI-Coalers at their meetings are quite informational and varied in context. Discussions also often take on a sharp candor by members not given to any similar organization in the entire industry. It is, in all sense of the word, a select group, unique in nature, yet founded on common bonds, while its members represent a wide-ranging cross-section of management levels throughout the industry, geographically as well. As a sounding board for industry problems and opportunities, CI-Coal has few peers. Among varied projects undertaken by CI-Coal is the recognition of scholarship in the pursuit of excellence by individual students in the mining engineering schools at the premier universities serving the industry. Each year an outstanding graduating senior at each of these universities is the recipient of a handsome, solid brass miner’s antique flame lantern, suitably inscribed, and commemorating the student’s achievement and scholarship abilities. Most often, it is presented to them by CI-Coal members who graduated at the same institution years earlier. These lanterns also stand as the symbol for CI-Coal itself, much like the hammer and pick does for the Society of Mining Engineers.

Our Logo. . .

CI-Coal is proud to have selected the lantern as part of its logo, as the members of CI-Coal devote their careers to the safe and efficient production of coal. The development of the flame safety lamp is one of the greatest single advances in mine safety, as described in the following article.


In the early 1700’s, coal mines were being dug deeper and so began to encounter methane gas, liberated from the deeper bituminous coal seams. Many miners using open lights for lighting lost their lives in explosions of the methane and coal dust. During this period, a “fireman” or “fireboss” was sent into the mine prior to the beginning of the shift with an open flame lamp on the end of a long pole, wearing wetted clothes in an attempt to provide protection against burns. He would thrust the flame into areas where methane might accumulate to detect and burn it out. It was not a long term career.

In the early 1800’s, efforts were focused on making the mines safer. Canaries, being extremely sensitive to the presence of methane, were sometimes taken into the mines to provide advance warning. About 1815, several men independently came up with similar designs for a “safety lamp”, the most famous of these inventors being Sir Humphry Davy. The flame safety lamp is sometimes called the Davy Lamp.

The safety lamp consists of an oil filled lantern surrounded by a tightly woven wire or sieve (625 apertures per sq. in. with 1/70th in. wire). In the event the lamp is taken into an area where methane is present, the flame will rise perceptibly and may even explode internally, but the wire gauze will dissipate the heat sufficiently to prevent the atmosphere outside the lamp from reaching ignition temperature. In addition to detecting methane, this lamp can also detect a depletion of oxygen in the environment, which might occur in old abandoned areas where carbon dioxide might tend to accumulate. The flame safety lamp has an excellent safety record.

Consequently, this lamp has been used in coal mines even to this day to test for methane and oxygen deficiency, although the 1969 Safety Act requires that an approved methane detector other than the flame safety lamp be used to test for methane. The Act, however, still provides that the Flame Safety Lamp may be used as a supplemental testing device. Persons making such gas tests are to this day still called firebosses, and the act of testing a mine prior to a crew entering to work is called “firebossing the mine”. Many of the older firebosses trust the flame safety light to be a more robust testing instrument than electronic instruments. The Flame Safety Lamp used today is almost identical in design to the lamp used at the turn of the century.