Tackling Tunnel Fires: The Penetration Depth as determining Factor

Seen from the fire service’s point of view, the risks in tunnels mainly result from the necessary penetration depth. The expected heat load affecting fire services on the other hand is of a secondary nature. Consequently, the chances for successful deployment are largely determined by the distance between the emergency exits.

Serious fires occurred in 1999 in the Mont Blanc and in the Tauern tunnels and in the Gotthard Road Tunnel in 2001. As a result, the evacuation conditions for tunnel users were improved. Nonetheless, some users are unable to get themselves to safety and people do not always behave reasonably in emergency situations. Thus, the fire service must assume when a fire incident occurs that there are still a certain number of persons in the tunnel.

Heat Impact affecting Firefighters

Contrary to widespread belief, firefighters do not wear special garments to protect themselves against heat. Their...

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