Road Tunnels Manual

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8.6. Fire-fighting equipment for the users and emergency teams

8.6.1. Objectives

The primary objective of fire fighting equipment in a road tunnel is to provide the means to fight a fire within the tunnel with minimum impact on the users, the emergency responders and the structure.

The World Road Association (PIARC) has addressed the systems required for the fighting of fires in road tunnels in numerous publications. This has been primarily in two publications; Technical Report 05.05.B 1999 "Fire and Smoke Control in Road Tunnels" and Technical Report 05.16.B 2007 "Systems and Equipment for Fire and Smoke Control in Road Tunnels" . In addition these issues were also covered in several Committee Reports to World Road Congresses specifically those held in Vienna (1979), Sydney (1983), Brussels (1987), and Marrakesh (2001).

The systems critical to the ability to fight a fire within a road tunnel include: detection, alarm, radio communications, emergency telephone, closed circuit television, loudspeakers, water supply and distribution, fixed fire fighting, portable fire extinguishers and emergency ventilation. These systems must be planned, evaluated, designed and installed in a careful thorough integrated manner to assure that the systems are truly compatible and that the fire life safety of the tunnel is not being compromised or being over provided.

Many of these elements of the tunnel fire fighting systems are addressed in other chapters of this manual. The systems included in other chapters provide detection (Section 8.3.5 Fire/smoke detection), fixed fire fighting (Section Fixed Fire Fighting Systems), fire alarms (Section Communication and alert systems), emergency telephones (Section 8.3.1 Emergency telephones), closed circuit television (Section Supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA), loudspeakers (Section 8.3.7 Loudspeakers), radio communications (Section Communication and alert systems), emergency ventilation (Section Ventilation).

The systems addressed in this section relate to those systems provided for fire fighting in road tunnels by the users (motorists), the operating agency and the fire brigade. These include systems designed to furnish a supply of water through a fire line (standpipe) and fire hydrants (hose valves) and it they include the installation of portable fire extinguishers within the road tunnel.

8.6.2. Water supply

A water supply system, including water mains, fire lines or standpipes, is required to provide water for fire fighting within the tunnel (through hydrants or hose valves) and to possibly provide water for a fixed fire fighting system (Section Fixed Fire Fighting Systems) if installed in the tunnel (see Section 6.3.3 "Water supply" of report 05.05.B 1999). The source of water can be from a water distribution system or from a water tank. The required system pressure must match the requirements of the responding fire brigade.

8.6.3. Fire hydrants

Fire hydrants (hose valves) are required within the road tunnel to provide a point of connection for the Fire Brigade to attach fire hose and gain access to the water supply. The hydrants should be installed at regular interval spacing within the tunnel (see Section 6.3.3 "Water supply" of report 05.05.B 1999). The hydrant connections must be compatible with the responding local fire brigade(s).

8.6.4. Portable fire extinguishers

Portable fire extinguishers are provided at regular intervals within road tunnels to allow the motorists and operating personnel to fight a modest size fire within the tunnel prior to the arrival of the fire services (see Section 6.3.2 "Fire extinguishers" of report 05.05.B 1999).

8.6.5. Fire hose

Fire hose reels are installed in road tunnels in some countries, however this is not a universal trend as other countries allow the fire brigade to bring their own hose into the tunnel for each incident (see Section 6.3.3 "Water supply" of report 05.05.B 1999).

Reference sources

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