Active Fire Protection in Tunnels

Published:  12 April, 2010

The international consensus on the benefits of active fire protection in tunnels has changed from being against the idea to one of guarded support. The most influential international standards, PIARC and NFPA, now contain positive remarks about active fire protection systems, even if they stop short of recommending them in all new tunnels. It has been recognised that active fire protection systems can limit the size of a fire so that ventilation systems will be able to handle it and fire-fighters will be able to approach to complete extinguishment. In addition it is recognised that active fire protection systems will limit damage to the tunnel in the event of fire, so that even a fire involving several heavy goods vehicles will not close the tunnel for a lengthy period. While the consensus has moved, there is still much debate about when an active fire protection system is appropriate; to what extent it can be assumed to limit the maximum heat release rate; and to what extent it will limit the maximum tunnel lining temperatures and so reduce the specification for passive structural fire protection. Surprisingly, given that over 100 tunnels are now fitted with an active fire protection system, there is also debate over the initial installation costs and the running costs. As these issues are addressed, using data, a consensus will emerge. Meanwhile most European countries now routinely consider whether to fix an active fire protection system in new tunnels, and some are considering whether active fire protection systems can be used to upgrade fire safety in existing tunnels. Looking ahead, research projects are investigating to what extent an active fire protection system can limit the maximum heat release rate; whether an active fire protection system combined with longitudinal ventilation offers equal or better life safety than transverse ventilation; and how to specify design or performance test criteria for tunnel active fire protection systems.

  • Operation Florian

Sign up: eMagazine & eNewsletter

The latest issues in your inbox.

Company Profiles

Williams Fire & Hazard Control offers a full line of specialized fire response equipment for oil and gas platforms

From storage tanks and pipeline emergencies to offshore platforms and vessels at sea, Williams' response personnel and specialized equipment quickly address adverse fire emergencies.

Trust the best, let us be your foam solution

AUXQUIMIA is a Spanish company whose main activity is the design, manufacture and commercialization of firefighting foam concentrates.

Foam fights fire

Europe’s foremost fire fighting foam manufacturer has been developing and producing foams since the 1920s.

Optical flame and open path gas detectors

Spectrex Inc. is a world leader in optical flame and combustible gas detection with over 30 years experience.

Revolutionizing fire fighting foam technology

The one-stop resource for fire fighting foam concentrates and custom-designed foam suppression systems hardware.

The leader in truck-mounted hydraulic platforms

Our mission is to provide the best and the safest solution to professionals that work at height.

The independent alternative

Dafo Fomtec AB is a privately owned company with head office in Stockholm Sweden and manufacturing in Helsingborg in the south of Sweden.

If you want quality, you want Zico

Since its inception Ziamatic Corp has provided the men and women of the fire service with products designed to make their jobs safer and easier.

The ultimate in innovation, quality and service

For 60 years Lehavot has been delivering the world’s most advanced fire detection and suppression automatic systems