Rail fire system given full-scale test in Spain 22 Jan 2014
Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
Full-scale testing in Spain is completed on a new fire detection management and response system - the Firetunnel Project - that researchers hope will improve the effectiveness of evacuations from rail tunnels.
Full-scale fire test of new safety system

Full-scale fire test of new safety system

The test was successfully carried out at the Serra Grossa tunnel in Alicante, Spain, on January 17, enabling researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia to gain real-time data on expected temperature distributions and fume behaviour that had already been predicted during extensive laboratory simulations.
The system comprises four subsystems that work together to first of all detect the location of the fire (subsystem 1) and then react by deploying counter-measures to prevent the spread of the flames beyond the immediate detected location (subsystem 2).
Following detection, fire resistant fabric canopies are deployed from above on either side of the flames to prevent its spread (subsystem 2). The intelligent detection system selects which canopies to unfold based on the location of the fire. The roof-mounted canopies are located periodically along the whole of the tunnel length.
Serra Grossa tunnel fire test in Spain

Serra Grossa tunnel fire test in Spain

An opening in each canopy is left in the tunnel crown area to facilitate controlled expulsion of smoke from the upper layers and to avoid mixing it with the cleaner air from the lower layers.
Once the fabric is unfolded the ventilation system is activated (subsystem 3) to expel smoke from the tunnel, and information is relayed to passengers caught up in the emergency indicating the best escape route (subsystem 4).
"The system is designed to expel air as fast as possible so as to prevent it from cooling and mixing with clean air," said researcher Teresa Real. "The work we are carrying out will improve the effectiveness of emergency evacuations, facilitate the work of rescue and service staff, and reduce the number of victims," she added.
The Firetunnel Project is being developed by researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia-based Institute of Transport and Territory in collaboration with the Institution of Government Infrastructure (EIGE) and a business consortium comprising Euroconsult, Talent Ingeniería, Instalaciones y Servicios, Zitron, Mecanizados Vila-Real and Postigo Obras y Servicios y Bonditex.
The 1,400m long Serra Grossa mined tunnel in which the system was tested is currently not in service, forming part of the tram extension to Benidorm that is not now expected to be opened until 2016 due to budget constraints.
Mobile furnace used for fire safety testing - TunnelTalk, August 2012
Full scale tunnel fire testing - TunnelTalk, May 2012
Fire spalling of self-compacting concrete - TunnelTalk, May 2012
Exit spacing influence on ventilation choices - TunnelTalk, May 2012
Sprinkler limitations for tunnel fire fighting - TunnelTalk, September 2011
Fire fighting system unveiled by Eurotunnel - TunnelTalk, February 2011
Truck blaze damages UK traffic tunnel - TunnelTalk, July 2011
PP fibres to resist fire-induced concrete spalling - TunnelTalk, November 2010

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