Atmospheric monitoring systems (AMS) have been widely used in underground coal mines in the United States for the detection of fire in the belt entry and the monitoring of other ventilation-related parameters such as airflow velocity and methane concentration in specific mine locations. In addition to an AMS being able to detect a mine fire, the AMS data have the potential to provide fire characteristic information such as fire growth — in terms of heat release rate — and exact fire location. Such information is critical in making decisions regarding fire-fighting strategies, underground personnel evacuation and optimal escape routes. In this study, a methodology was developed to calculate the fire heat release rate using AMS sensor data for carbon monoxide concentration, carbon dioxide concentration and airflow velocity based on the theory of heat and species transfer in ventilation airflow. Full-scale mine fire experiments were then conducted in the Pittsburgh Mining Research Division’s Safety Research Coal Mine using an AMS with different fire sources. Sensor data collected from the experiments were used to calculate the heat release rates of the fires using this methodology. The calculated heat release rate was compared with the value determined from the mass loss rate of the combustible material using a digital load cell. The experimental results show that the heat release rate of a mine fire can be calculated using AMS sensor data with reasonable accuracy.