Activities of the the Department for Ventilation, Fires and Occupational Safety in Wroclaw are evaluated. Until 1981 the Department concentrated its research programs on ventilation in copper mines; since 1982 its programs have also covered ventilation and hazards of endogenous fire in black coal mines. The Department investigated hazards of coal spontaneous combustion in Lower Silesian coal mines and proved that the hazards are associated with occurrence of specific layers in coal seams. When coal left in the goaf area came from a layer prone to spontaneous combustion hazards of endogenous fires were high. The Department developed a method for fire prevention using periodic reversal of goaf ventilation. Schemes for reverse ventilation are discussed.