Specific Tactics for Combating Tunnel Fires

The International Fire Academy in Switzerland is engaged in training fire services from all over Europe in combating tunnel fires – now in its fifth year. More than 8000 fire-fighters have so far been trained at the specially devised tunnel facilities at Balsthal and Lungern. Apart from tunnel-specific tactics and practical instruction, extremely precise knowledge of the ins-and-outs of each tunnel system represents a central factor for the success of an assignment. According to the Fire Academy the deployment situation can furthermore be enhanced through collaboration with engineers, tunnellers and operators.

Fire services often have to counter the view that they are incapable of doing anything at all when confronted with a tunnel fire. This expectation relates to extreme major fires, in the case of which fire-fighters find themselves stretched to the limits. At the same time, emergency services managed to close in on the major fires in the Gotthard Road Tunnel and the Mont Blanc Tunnel to within 20 m of the conflagration. This is possible from the upstream side, as substantially lower temperatures prevail there. For this reason amongst others the philosophy for combating tunnel fires at the...

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