Railway training facility to be expanded

  23. April 2018

The railway training facility at the International Fire Academy in Balsthal is currently a major construction site. Since the beginning of March, this infrastructure part of the tunnel training facility is being completely revised. The centrepiece is a new fire simulation system. Training operations at the new facility are scheduled to start at the end of August 2018. The courses in the road tunnel continue as usual during the construction phase.


New cooperations for railway training

  23. April 2018

The Swiss Federal Office of Transport stipulates that in future all fire services deployed on Swiss railway installations must be specially trained for this task. For the implementation of this regulation, the International Fire Academy is planned as a national training centre, which is why it is currently holding talks with the railway infrastructure companies. The main agreements have already been reached.


A Spotlight on the 6th Fire Chief Forum

  12. January 2018

"The No does not occur in the fire service system." This thesis seems correct. And that is exactly why a No from the fire services is more important today than ever. Why? Let us take a pithy review of the 6th Fire Chief Forum of the International Fire Academy to clarify this claim.


New classroom building opened

  26. September 2017

A new classroom building enriches the training infrastructure of the Inter-Cantonal Fire Service Training Centre and the International Fire Academy in Balsthal. More than 15 000 people will use the building every year and benefit from its modern design.


Inquired: Extended cooling reduces chances of survival

  09. May 2017

How should burn victims be treated until the paramedics arrive? And what is important for firefighters if they suffer from a burn injury themselves? Information on this topic is given by Johannes Horter, since 2014 head of Department of Hand, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and intensive care centre for burn injuries at the BG Hospital Ludwigshafen.


Marco Nigg – The Latest Instructor in the Team

  08. May 2017

Marco Nigg faces a host of challenges at work every day. As the latest member in the team of senior instructors at the International Fire Academy, he is already active in various projects after only a short time on the job and is currently learning Italian. During the next few weeks he will be visiting the Swiss Fire Services together with Marianne Wernli, head of the training department. Giving an initial assessment of his new job, Marco Nigg said, "It’s great to be involved so quickly and to have so many challenges."


Enhanced Training Scenarios in Lungern

  28. April 2017

Long attack routes, major slopes and partially uneven ground – the tunnel training facility of the International Fire Academy in Lungern provides a challenging training setting for fire services. The training scenarios within the hot training tunnel are now enhanced: as additional training element, an extinguishing attack on a car fire can now be simulated. Therefore, a new mock-up with two separate fire scenes is now available. ”With this addition we can have even more training diversity and simulate besides two full lorry fires also a small fire in Lungern,” explains Marianne Wernli, head of training. All exercises of the UTS-Basis Course Road (part 2) of the Swiss fire services have been augmented accordingly. Scenarios with a car fire can be integrated into individual courses of fire services from other countries as well.


Inquired: training in railway tunnels

  25. April 2017

Rüdiger Palatz organised on behalf of the DB Netz AG a five-day training in the railway tunnel under the terminal of the airport BER Berlin Brandenburg (see "Five-day training in a tunnel" in "Downloads"). In the interview, he explains what is important when preparing smaller drills in the railway sector and why a lead-time of at least half a year is reasonable.


Inquired: how to train in your tunnel

  25. April 2017

The fire services responsible for the airport BER Berlin-Brandenburg have been training for five days beneath the airport terminal. Markus Vogt, a senior instructor of the International Fire Academy, participated as an instructor. We asked him about the possibilities and limitations of such a training in a tunnel.


Second invitation to the FDIC in Indianapolis

  18. November 2016

The FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference) in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, presents itself as the world's largest conference for fire service training, including a trade fair. From 24 to 29 April 2017, the International Fire Academy will be represented for the second time at this event and present the Swiss Tunnel Firefighting Procedure.


International Fire Academy for the first time at Intersec

  17. November 2016

Messe Frankfurt refers to the Intersec as their "leading fair for security and fire protection". Since 1999, it is held annually in Dubai. At the 19th Event from 22 to 24 January 2017 more than 1 300 exhibitors are presenting themselves, including for the first time the International Fire Academy (Booth 7-E30).


Inquired: Accidents Involving Electric Vehicles

  09. November 2016

How do batteries in an electric vehicle react in an accident with or without fire? Dr Dietmar Schelb, Head of the Research Centre for Fire Protection (FFB) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), spoke about this topic at the 5th Fire Chief Forum of the International Fire Academy in Vaduz. We asked: What are the most significant findings for fire services?


It has to be easy during incident operations

  07. November 2016

Looking back on the 5th Fire Chief Forum of the International Fire Academy: When it comes to incident operations within tunnels, an almost endless number of aspects and questions have to be considered, from planning procedures to special hazards to victim identification. Towards this complexity all speakers at the 5th Fire Chief Forum of the International Fire Academy agreed on: Simplify it! But how is this demand put into practice?


Every Twelve Days a Fire Happens in a Tunnel

  12. October 2016

There is no official statistics on fires in underground transportation facilities. Therefore, the International Fire Academy evaluates media reports of fire incidents in tunnels since the beginning of 2012. According to this evaluation, looking at only Switzerland, Austria and Germany at least 2.4 fires occur in railway or road tunnels per month.


Endurance Training with Respiratory Protective Equipment

  12. October 2016

"The training is a borderline experience." Daniel Guischard, chief officer of Bad Homburg's fire service, goes with his mine rescue team to the performance limits, to prepare the 16 members of this special unit for long operations with closed-circuit breathing apparatus (rebreathers). Their field of operation is not commonplace: the mine rescue unit was established for the water supply facilities of the Taunus City.


Few seats are still available for Intensive Training Course 2016

  12. October 2016

The intensive training course road & rail provides officers of fire services the opportunity to learn and train the tactics and techniques for firefighting in tunnels of the International Fire Academy intensively. At the moment the course is being offered once per year. Individual seats are still available for the next course from 5 to 9 December 2016.


Textbook about the Tunnel Firefighting Procedure now available in English

  04. January 2016

The textbook Firefighting Operations in Road Tunnels introducing the tunnel firefighting procedure developed at the International Fire Academy is now also available in English. Until the 29 February 2016 the book with 144 pages can be ordered at an introductory price for 17.50 Euros, from the 1 March 2016 on it will cost 19.90 Euros.


International Fire Academy on Tour

  15. December 2015

This year several trade fairs and events in different countries from Switzerland to USA are on the agenda of the International Fire Academy. Goal is to introduce the Tunnel Firefighting Procedure and to strengthen the network of experts. A special event this year is the forum of the fire chiefs taking place for the fifth time from 7 to 9 September 2016. The following preview lists the external events in chronological order.


Training on-site with the Professional Fire Service Jena

  11. December 2015

The professional fire service of Jena (DE) is amongst other things in charge of the Jagdberg road tunnel, which opened to traffic in October 2014. As preparation for the new task, firefighter officers from Jena passed through the training of the International Fire Academy in 2012 and 2013, resulting in an on-site training concept explained in a detailed report from Manuela Naeter, responsible for the tunnel training of the professional fire service Jena.


Instructor Training with Special Guests

  04. December 2015

Marianne Wernli, head of training of the International Fire Academy, welcomed two special guests from her own house at the recent UTS instructor training: Urs Kummer and Daniel Berchtold from management, actively participated to gain their personal impression of the requirements towards instructors.


Introducing the Tunnel Firefighting Procedure at the STUVA Conference

  02. December 2015

Fire services fighting fires in road tunnels can contribute much more to rescue and limiting damage than in general assumed. This was the quintessence of the speech from Christian Brauner, head of development of the International Fire Academy, held in early December 2015 at the STUVA conference in Dortmund.


Strengthening the Team of the International Fire Academy

  01. December 2015

Two new employees are joining the team of the International Fire Academy in management and administration. Daniel Berchtold has taken the seat of deputy CEO on the 1 October 2015. Since 1 December 2015 Rachel Petrone supports amongst other things Noelia Garcia with course administration.


Intensive Training Course for Fire Services from Asia

  16. October 2015

For the first time the International Fire Academy announced an English intensive training course in the autumn of 2015. All participants came from Asia. Therefore, rather than to translate the contents of the course, the challenge for the instructors was more the question if the European procedures with its tactics and techniques fit for fire services from these culture areas.


Making new contacts at the Interschutz

  21. June 2015

The first appearance of the International Fire Academy at the Interschutz from 8. to 13. June 2015 in Hannover (D) received lively interest. The analysis shows: about half of the visitors interested in training offers for fires in road and railway tunnels were new contacts.


High interest in the Interschutz lottery

  21. June 2015

1'024 entries where submitted on the occasion of the Interschutz 2015 to the lottery of the International Fire Academy. Many visitors entered at the stand in hall 12. Also the winners of the first two prizes submitted their entry forms at the Interschutz into our lottery box. The lot numbers where drawn by a random generator.


New instructor reinforces full-time team

  01. June 2015

On the 1. June 2015 Charles-André Paupe joined the International Fire Academy as a full-time instructor. Since 2012 he has aided the International Fire Academy as a militia-instructor and gained knowledge of the training procedures in this time.


One bi-directional lane at the tunnel training in Iceland

  27. May 2015

Akureyri was Markus Vogt´s destination on the 27. May 2015. At the two-day on-site training the instructor of the International Fire Academy experienced a tunnel with one bi-directional lane for the first time. With various tunnel facilities in mind a key issue of the training was the limits and possibilities of incident management.


Drill and operations with mobile ventilation unit in Luxembourg

  16. May 2015

For the second time, firefighters from Luxembourg trained with mobile ventilation units in a tunnel just before its public opening. This time the Grouft tunnel on the A7 north of the city of Luxembourg was used. With a length of 2 950 m it is one of the longest tunnels in the country and is scheduled to open in the autumn. Air flow conditions at this large-volume structure could be experienced on hand.


Interschutz-tickets for our interlocutors

  29. April 2015

Several experts from the International Fire Academy will be available for expert discussions during the Interschutz from 8 to 13 June in Hannover, stand C44 hall 12. Customers can already book their appointment to ensure they are met with the appropriate expert. All interested visitors who make an appointment by the 31 May will receive a free ticket for the Interschutz on confirmation of their appointment.


Pocket Tactics for impromptu scenario discussions

  29. April 2015

The advantage of scenarios lies with reducing the information to the essential points. Thus making it the main concern for the International Fire Academy during the development of "Pocket Tactics", which are being introduced at the Interschutz for the first time. With this kit incidents in tunnels can be created with little pencil strokes and discussed in depth.


Start of the UTF training collaboration exchange

  28. April 2015

Firefighting operations in an underground transportation facilities (UTF) require – like all firefighting operations - teamwork. Fire services take advantage of the training offered by the International Fire Academy to participate in individual courses for their officers alone or officers with crew. However, not all fire services can reserve a complete course for 12 to 24 firefighters on their own. An alternative would be to collaborate with another fire service. To make the organisation of such collaboration easier, the International Fire Academy introduces the UTF training collaboration exchange.


Interschutz lottery – Enter online or at our Interschutz stand

  28. April 2015

Five years of official training and making our debut as an exhibitor at the Interschutz, are good reasons to celebrate. Therefore the International Fire Academy is hosting a lottery. Amongst other prizes, you can win participation on one of our intensive or compact courses or a guided day at the International Fire Academy with a technical program for a group up to twelve people. You can enter our lottery online or at our stand C44 in hall 12.


Intensive training course for firefighting operations in tunnels

  27. March 2015

For the first time the International Fire Academy in Balsthal offers an intensive training course for firefighting operations in road and railway tunnels in English. The course takes place in Switzerland from 12th to 16th October 2015. Individual places are currently available.


Training as exercise according to RABT

  06. March 2015

Six tunnels are located in the area of responsibility of the Wuppertal fire service. When it was time for a scheduled full scale tunnel exercise in line with the German "Guidelines for the Equipment and Operation of Road Tunnels" (RABT), the Wuppertal personnel, together with the responsible road administration (North Rhine-Westphalia) and Frank Embert-Kreiser, the tunnel safety officer, found a new solution: they tested their instructions for deployment during a training course at the International Fire Academy in Balsthal. This training course was recognised as a full scale exercise according to RABT.


International Fire Academy at Interschutz

  06. March 2015

The International Fire Academy is exhibiting at Interschutz in Hanover, Germany,raff for the first time from 8 to 13 June 2015. Interschutz considers itself to be the "leading exhibition for international fire and disaster protection". Visitors can go along to exhibition stand C 44 in Hall 12 to obtain information about the training offered by the International Fire Academy in the handling of incidents in rail and road tunnels.


Fire Asia targets safety for complex infrastructure

  06. February 2015

An infrastructure that is becoming more and more complex for a continent with a high population density is not only a reflection of economic growth. This development also changes the risk landscape of Asia. How the emergency services can prepare themselves for this was the subject of Fire Asia from 3 to 6 February 2015 in Hong Kong. Urs Kummer, Chief Executive Officer of the International Fire Academy talked on preparation for deployment in tunnel fires.


How much theory does good practice require?

  06. February 2015

For Divisional Commander, Andreas Klein, becoming familiar with a training facility outside Germany was an objective of his voluntary practical experience in training for service at a higher level. From 26 January to 6 February 2015 he took part in an internship at the International Fire Academy and, as a training officer himself, took an important question back home with him: how much theory does a firefighter need?


Advanced training course for instructors from the canton of Zurich

  29. January 2015

Approximately 100 instructors from the canton of Zurich experienced practical training at the International Fire Academy from 12 to 29 January 2015. For many of them it was the first time they had had to deal with tunnel deployments, as they do not belong to a fire brigade with tunnel facilities in its area of responsibility. Therefore during training, apart from deployment tactics and technique, emphasis was placed on how to proceed methodically.


Instructors prepare new deployment exercises

  21. January 2015

For three days, 40 instructors from the International Fire Academy trialled new deployment exercises from 18 to 21 January 2015 at its sites in Lungern and Balsthal. The exercises have been developed for the UTF road refresher course and can in future also be integrated into other training courses.


New HGV fire mock-ups in Lungern

  20. January 2015

After five years in operation for exercises, the HGV fire mock-ups in Lungern have been replaced by new models. There were two aims in this respect: longer durability and an extra fire seat for new training scenarios. A combination of heat, propane gas and permanent humidity in the tunnel led to the increased material fatigue of the original mock-ups made of construction and CorTen steel, meaning that two HGV mock-ups had to be replaced. In order to facilitate longer use of the new models, they were ordered in chromium-plated stainless steel. This means we can especially expect better properties as regards thermal expansion and distortion.


IAFPA Congress on Future Risks at Airports

  14. January 2015

Future challenges for airport fire brigades were the subject of the 15th Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting Conference held in Singapore from 12 to 14 January 2015. Apart from aircraft accident case studies, 12 international speakers – including Jörg Winkler of the International Fire Academy – gave an insight into the risks and challenges posed by increasing passenger numbers.


Brussels fire service starts tunnel training

  13. December 2015

For Brussels, local public transport is like the heartbeat of the city: 800,000 people use buses, trams and the metro every day – and this number is on the increase. In order to prepare the Brussels fire service for deployment in underground transportation facilities, 20 instructors and management personnel attended a pilot course at the International Fire Academy in Switzerland from 8 to 13 December 2014. The training was financed by STIB, the Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company.


Last few places on Intensive Road Tunnel course 2015

  08. December 2014

The intensive road tunnel course offers the management personnel and instructors of fire brigades the opportunity to complete a training course at the International Fire Academy as individuals. A few places are still left for the only German-language course advertised for 2015 (16 to 19 March). The 2015 compact course is already fully booked. For the first time from 12 to 16 October, an intensive road and rail tunnel course is being offered and there are still some places on it.


European Director Generals of Public Roads tour the International Fire Academy

  05. December 2014

The members of the board of the Conference of European Director Generals of Public Roads (Conférence Européene des Directeurs des Routes, CEDR) meet three times a year in a different member country. The third meeting in 2014 led them to Switzerland on 4 and 5 December. At the invitation of the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO), 26 board members also visited the International Fire Academy. Such a specialist excursion is a regular part of these meetings.


Search and rescue sticks in ifaSHOP

  01. December 2014

The International Fire Academy recommends the use of search and rescue sticks when operating in larger areas, such as in tunnels or buildings with large fire zones. With the appropriate training, this enables systematic, time-saving searching with reduced physical stress. Fire brigades can equip themselves with these aids from the ifaSHOP.


Large two-tunnel project in Karlsruhe

  18. November 2014

The city of Karlsruhe is making headlines with its "combination solution". In order to improve the transport situation, two metropolitan rail tunnels and a road tunnel are being constructed in the city centre. The preparations for this have included, amongst other things, a management training course at the International Fire Academy.


Transfer of experiences using the LUF60

  16. December 2014

The fire brigades of Landeck (Austria) and Davos (Switzerland) both experienced an intensive day of training in Balsthal on 14 November 2014 when they took part in a course on the LUF60 together. The Landeck Fire Brigade has at its disposal considerable knowledge in the handling of this firefighting support vehicle, gained from a number of exercises, training sessions and deployments involving real incidents in road tunnels. The objective of this joint training course was to impart to their Swiss colleagues the most important findings in as little time as possible, in order to be able to act jointly using this as a basis.


Workshop for specialists from Seoul

  07. October 2014

In October 2014, five fire service and disaster control specialists from the Seoul Metropolitan Fire And Disaster Management Department successfully completed the English-language "Tunnel Firefighting" workshop at the International Fire Academy in Balsthal. Instructor Markus Vogt and the Key Account Manager of the International Fire Academy, Jörg Winkler, gave the course participants an insight into the training programmes available at the Swiss fire academy. During the exchange of experiences, the central theme for the guests from Seoul, apart from tactical procedures in tunnel firefighting, was the training organisation itself.


Instructors act as observers in Maurice Lemaire Tunnel

  02. October 2014

Inspecting different tunnel facilities and taking part in exercises in the role of observer is part of the day-to-day work of instructors from the International Fire Academy. On these specialist trips, they consider the way the courses are delivered using actual individual situations and are given reports based on practical experience. Such an excursion was undertaken by Marianne Wernli, Training Manager, Marcel Schleuniger and Ulrich Roth as full-time instructors, as well as volunteer-instructor Federico Ferrario on 2 October at the invitation of APRR (Autoroutes Paris-Rhin-Rhône), the operator of the Maurice Lemaire Tunnel, to the commune of Lusse.


First textbook on tunnel deployment training course

  08. October 2014

With the title "Brandeinsätze in Strassentunneln″ ["Deployment of firefighters in road tunnels"], the International Fire Academy has published its first textbook and with it launched its series of publications on "Intervention in underground transportation facilities". The 144-page, German-language book was presented during the 3rd Fire Chiefs' Forum in Balsthal and met with great praise from those attending who numbered almost 100. It can be ordered until 31 October 2014 at the introductory price of CHF 21.90 or € 17.50. With effect from 1 November, the retail price will be CHF 24.90 or € 19.90. French and English editions are in preparation.


Rail tunnels pose a big challenge

  10. October 2014

"Protective fire safety measures in rail tunnels" was the theme of the 3rd Fire Chiefs' Forum of the International Fire Academy from 24 to 26 September. Approaching 100 guests from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Italy and Denmark travelled to Balsthal for this German-language forum of experts. Six specialist talks on subjects specific to the fire service and relating to the construction and operation of rail tunnels were complemented by a visit from the fire brigade responsible for the Lötschberg Base Tunnel and an intensive exchange of experiences by those attending.


Norwegians prepare themselves for the Stad Ship Tunnel

  10. September 2014

Markus Vogt, Instructor and Head of Consulting, brought the most unusual request to date back to the International Fire Academy from the "Fire Protection and Safety in Tunnels" congress on 10 and 11 September 2014 in Bergen: "Do you also have an evacuation plan for passenger ships in tunnels?" This query has a real-life background, as April Fools' Day is not in September in Norway.


Risk assessment engineers from Swiss Re experience the world of tunnels

  27. August 2014

62 risk assessment engineers from the insurance company Swiss Re completed a special kind of training course at the International Fire Academy in Balsthal on 27 August 2014. In a programme specially developed for this target group, the engineers from all over the world entered into intense discussion about the risks in tunnels, as well as refreshing their know-how when dealing with small firefighting appliances.


Communicating interdisciplinary findings

  27. May 2014

The findings of the International Fire Academy resulting from over ten years of research and development, as well as five years spent training fire brigades in dealing with incidents in tunnels, should, in future, be incorporated more closely into the further development of standards, instructions and regulations for the construction and operation of tunnel facilities. This is the recommendation issued by the Strategic Advisory Board of the International Fire Academy on the occasion of its third meeting on 14 May 2014 in Balsthal.


Taking the requirements of the fire service into consideration when building tunnels

  25. May 2014

Since 2014, tunnel safety from the perspective of fire brigades has also been a topic tackled by the Annual Tunnels Fire & Safety Forum. In the wake of this expansion to include other themes, Urs Kummer, Chief Executive Officer of the International Fire Academy, has been appointed a member of the Advisory Committee. In his talk at the Forum on 15 April in Amsterdam, he primarily campaigned for allowing the experiences and requirements of fire brigades with regard to tunnel fires to be incorporated into the design and construction of tunnels.


Preparation for a large-scale exercise using the Ursulaberg Tunnel as an example

  17. May 2014

The preparations of the fire brigades for a large-scale exercise in the Ursulaberg Tunnel in Pfullingen, Germany extended over a period of three months and, including the police and German Red Cross, involved over 200 personnel. In the run-up to the exercise, intensive training took place, and especially of the fire brigades involved, which is an example of the preparation necessary for the 4-year exercises prescribed by the European Tunnel Directive 2004/54/EC.


Training in Sedrun access tunnel

  02. May 2014

Access tunnels or buildings housing technical equipment with the characteristics of an underground transportation facility have been the theme of training courses at the International Fire Academy a number of times this year. The example which stands out most is the course for the firefighters of the Sursassiala fire brigade, who have the Sedrun access tunnel to the Gotthard Base Tunnel within their area of responsibility. Instructors from the International Fire Academy also trained 60 firefighters from the Linth-Limmern AG power stations in the canton of Glarus. At the beginning of July, the works fire brigade of the Oberhasli AG power stations were trained in the tunnel training facilities in Lungern.


Tunnel exercise with large fans in Luxembourg

  01. April 2014

For two full days on 29 and 30 March in Luxembourg, 50 fire service personnel tested the options for use and the limits of large mobile fans (LMFs). This advanced training course with a number of different exercises was organised by the Regionalverband Ost [Eastern Region Fire Service Association] and the National Fire Academy of Luxembourg. The participants came from all parts of the Grand Duchy and the Luxembourg City Fire Brigade. Responsibility for course content was held by Markus Vogt of the International Fire Academy as course leader and instructor.


Four tunnel headings on the sea bed

  27. March 2014

The Safety Supervision Team for the large-scale Fehmarn Belt Tunnel project invited members of the International Fire Academy to Northern Germany in March for an exchange of information. The subject was the current status of protective fire safety measures in road and rail tunnels.


First intensive road tunnel course goes international

  26. March 2014

With six participants from Southern Germany and three from Abu Dhabi, the International Fire Academy carried out its intensive road tunnel course for the first time in March. On this course, management personnel and training supervisors experience and learn everything that is necessary to develop a deployment concept for "their" fire brigade.


First compact course completed

  25. March 2014

With course participants from Southern Tyrol (Italy), Munich and Lower Saxony (Germany), the International Fire Academy carried out its first compact course in March. This course offers a compact overview of the training provided by the International Fire Academy for deployment in road and rail tunnels, but without the opportunity for intensive training wearing breathing equipment.


A fire brigade’s experiences of the UTF Basic road & rail course

  06. March 2014

The UTF Basic road & rail course is part of the standard training programme of the International Fire Academy for Swiss fire service personnel. Basically, it is offered to different fire brigades.


Joint course for Innsbruck and Landeck

  27. February 2014

For the first time, seven members of the Innsbruck Municipal Fire Brigade and nine members of the Landeck Fire Brigade have trained together in the tunnel training facilities in Balsthal. Both fire brigades had completed at least one training course at the International Fire Academy in previous years and were interested in more comprehensive training. Thanks to their cooperation, costs could be shared and the two-day course carried out.


Fire brigades from the Province of Zealand train in Switzerland

  26. February 2014

Given the background that emergencies and crises have no regard for municipal boundaries, in the Netherlands regional mergers have been instigated in order to prevent hazards. One of these "Veiligheidsregios" ["safety regions"] is Zealand, a province with a resident population of around 380,000 and more than 600,000 holidaymakers in the high season. 36 crew members and eight instructors from this province completed an intensive programme on tunnel firefighting at the International Fire Academy.


Further training for instructors of the International Fire Academy

  25. February 2014

Theory and practice are combined in the annual further training of the instructors at the International Fire Academy. This year, the three-day course ran from 21 to 23 January under the management of Marianne Wernli, Training Manager, and includes a visit to the Gotthard Base Tunnel. The main aspects here were the construction process and safety concept of the tunnel. As part of the visit, the instructors were able to inspect the Faido emergency halt and follow the escape path.


Train-the-trainer programme for Schiphol airport

  24. February 2014

11 instructors of the Schiphol airport fire brigade in Amsterdam successfully completed the one-week "Train the trainer programme" in Balsthal and Lungern, together with one instructor from each of the regional fire brigades of Kennemerland and Amsterdam-Amstelland.


Tunnel workshop for National Fire Agency, Taiwan

  29. November 2013

The Training Academy of the National Fire Agency in Zhushan, close to Taichung, Taiwan, is the third-largest emergency training centre in the world. Occupying over 100 hectares, 49 exercise scenarios are installed, including the equipment necessary for training for fighting aircraft fires, fires in high-rise buildings, as well as incidents of fire in tunnels and underground railways.


Plea for cooperation at EuroFire 2013

  29. October 2013

New trends and developments in fire safety were the main focus of the EuroFire Conference 2013 in Basel. At this event, Urs Kummer, Chief Executive Officer of the International Fire Academy, gave a talk on the central aspects of tunnel safety in the event of a fire.


Baden-Württemberg starts seminars in Balsthal

  25. October 2013

The Baden-Württemberg Provincial Fire Academy started to offer training in tunnel firefighting in cooperation with the International Fire Academy in September 2013. The foundation of this collaboration is the content of the Swiss basic and management courses for handling incidents in underground transportation facilities. 34 participants from 30 fire brigades or fire service authorities travelled to Balsthal for the first seminar entitled "Search & rescue and firefighting in road tunnels." They were accompanied in Bruchsal by Thomas Fink and Christian Knopf of the Baden-Württemberg Provincial Fire Academy. A number of participants, such as Carl Friedrich Koch of the Office for Fire and Disaster Protection of the City of Freiburg, were able in the International Fire Academy to build on initial experiences with Swiss tunnel tactics from a pilot project in 2012 of the Tunnel working group of the province of Baden-Württemberg. After this pilot event, Freiburg revised its tunnel deployment concept and was now able to positively test the planned procedure in training and discussions with other participants. The seminar in September 2013 again took on the characteristics of a pilot project for the Baden-Württemberg Provincial Fire Academy and the International Fire Academy. Very good feedback was received for the training facilities, emphasis on a practical approach and the Swiss way of training fire service personnel from course participants, many of whom were themselves involved in training others. There is still room for discussion with regard to the adaptation of Swiss tunnel deployment teaching to suit the conditions and service regulations in Baden-Württemberg. The Tunnel working group of the Baden-Württemberg fire brigades will busy themselves with this in the autumn of 2013. The next seminar is scheduled for 2014.


International Fire Academy receives award for tunnel training

  30. September 2013

At the first "Fire Protection and Safety Award Dinner" in Copenhagen, the International Fire Academy received an award for its "outstanding contribution to training in tunnel firefighting" (link to certificate). The award was presented by Les Fielding, Chairman of this year's fifth specialist conference on tunnel safety and head of the PIARC Fire Safety working group. Les Fielding praised the tunnel deployment training course developed by the Academy itself, as well as the two unique training facilities in Balsthal and Lungern, which make realistic training possible. The training also enables participants to cope with incidents more efficiently and to increase safety for both tunnel users and the tunnel system and equipment. The International Fire Academy received the award as "Europe's leading fire academy for instruction and practical exercises in underground transportation facilities". The awards for businesses and organisations that have rendered outstanding service to effective preventative or protective fire safety measures in tunnels in a particular way were presented for the first time at the fifth "Fire Protection and Safety in Tunnels" conference. Three further awards went to Karl Fridolf of the Department of Fire Safety Engineering and Systems Safety of Lund University in Sweden for his research into tunnel fire safety, to the Flir company in the "Products for improving tunnel safety" category for its development of a thermal imaging camera, as well to the Fehmarn Belt as the most audacious and most innovative tunnel project in Europe. The jury, which also helped develop the criteria for the first presentation of these awards, comprised four international representatives of the tunnel world: Fathi Tarada of the "Tunnel Operation Committee" of the World Road Association PIARC, Andy Evans, Chairman of the Road Tunnel Operators Association (RTOA) in England, Prof. Peter Sturm of the University of Graz in Austria (research concentrating on tunnel ventilation) and Jon Young, Editor-in-Chief of "Tunnels and Tunnelling International" in England. Photos: Arena International


Visit of fire service delegation from Belgrade

  25. September 2013

As part of a partnership meeting, Dominik Straumann, Fire Chief of the Muttenz volunteer fire brigade and President of the Fire Service Association of the cantons of Basel-Stadt and Basel-Land, visited the International Fire Academy with a fire service delegation from Belgrade. Aleksandar Lazarevic, Principal of the National Training Centre for Exceptional Situations in Serbia, was accompanied by Nenad Paunovic, responsible for the organisation of fire service training in the country, Chief of the rescue brigade of the Pancevo battalion, Boro Majkic, President of the Pancevo fire service, Mile Bodrozic, as well as Ana and Konstantin Cobanovic, both members of this Municipal Fire Brigade. These fire service experts from Belgrade were clearly impressed by the size of the 260 m-long training tunnel with both road and rail sections in Balsthal and the exercise opportunities it offered. Appreciation was also shown for the entire infrastructure of the International Fire Academy complex. The delegates had never seen comparable facilities before.


Disseminator training for Thuringia

  20. September 2013

The disseminator training offered by the International Fire Academy, which was advertised officially for non-Swiss fire service personnel for the first time this year, got off to a start with the Thuringia National Fire & Disaster Protection Academy in Germany (LFKS). 17 participants from 14 fire brigades, as well as three employees of the LFKS, took part in intensive training in Balsthal and Lungern. "The most important findings included, on the one hand, the extremely high level of physical stress, which is something we should not underestimate in future. On the other hand, all of the participants were of the opinion that the concept taught by the International Fire Academy represents the most efficient method to date for hazard prevention in road tunnels," commented Christian Feist, LFKS Specialist Tutor, providing feedback from the group. The Thuringia Free State has extended its road network in past years with a number of tunnels, including the Rennsteig Tunnel which opened in 2003 and is the longest road tunnel in Germany having a length of 7,916 m. The Free State made the funds available to train the fire brigades responsible for tactical procedure. The objective is to gain disseminators who will pass on their knowledge of tunnel firefighting. A further course is already scheduled for 2014.   Photos: Thuringia National Fire & Disaster Protection Academy


Tunnel fires featured at Florian 2013

  09. September 2013

The Florian 2013 German trade fair starts on Thursday 19 September with an exercise in tunnel firefighting by the host Karlsruhe fire service on the Karlsruhe exhibition site. Following on from the exercise, which takes place at around 11.30am in the open air exhibition grounds, there will be two specialist presentations in Hall 1 from 1.30pm. Volkmer Helmers, former District Fire Chief in the rural district of Leer, will report on deployment experience with the firefighting support vehicle which is one of the Rechner's company's fire extinguishing systems in Ludesch (1.30pm). Then Christian Brauner, Manager of the Training and Development Team of the International Fire Academy will talk on the subject "Deployment of fire service personnel in road tunnels" from the perspective of preparation for deployment (2pm, Hall 1). His information is based on the tunnel deployment training course, specially developed by the International Fire Academy for fighting tunnel fires. Visitors to the Karlsruhe Trade Fair for Fire Brigades, Fire and Disaster Control will twice have the opportunity to listen to a talk by Martin Buschert, Manager of the Baden-Baden fire service. He will be speaking on Friday, 20 September, at 2.30pm and on Saturday 21 September, at 1pm on "Responsibility in the fire service", using the particular risks involved in tunnel construction sites as an example. Information on the full Florian 2013 programme can be found on the website: www.messe-florian.de.


New pump water tender for tunnel training

  03. September 2013

The fleet of vehicles of the Intercantonal Fire Academy in Balsthal, at the same location as the International Fire Academy, has been augmented by a new pump water tender. In future, this vehicle will also be used for exercises in the tunnel training facilities. The special equipment featured includes a water cannon with a flow rate of 1,500 l/min. and a correspondingly dimensioned water tank with a capacity of 3,000 litres. Individual fire brigades that train in Balsthal and Lungern on a regular basis, such as the tunnel firefighters responsible for the Mont Blanc road tunnel, already have such a water cannon. In future, they can leave their vehicle back at base, but still be able to implement their special procedure 1:1 in the exercises. Rescue and fire extinguishing equipment are also tailored for deployment in a tunnel, augmented by a rear motorised hose reel. When fitting out the cab for the crew, particular attention was paid to the requirements of those wearing breathing equipment. A total of five of the eight spaces are specially equipped for them.


International courses for 2014/15 now online

  26. August 2013

The International Fire Academy is in 2014/15 continuing with its new course offerings that cater especially for non-Swiss fire service management personnel. There will be four courses in the spring and two in the autumn. They open with a three-day intensive "Road" course from 10 to 12 March 2014.


Inquiry: Technical defect presumed the cause of fire

  19. August 2013

At an HGV fire in the Gotthard Tunnel on 25 October 2012, the tractor unit was already fully ablaze when the Gotthard Fire & Rescue Service "SWG" arrived just six minutes after the alarm was raised (at 07:34 the SWG was deployed via SIKADO; at 07:40 the SWG was on the spot, and the HGV was burning; at 07:48 the SWG had the fire under control). The intensity of the fire was surprising, even for the experienced fire service team. There was a forensic investigation of the cause of the fire. The results are now available, reports Beat Walther, Deputy Fire Chief of the Gotthard Fire & Rescue Service: The cause of the fire can almost certainly be traced back to a technical defect in the cabling or battery or possibly the fuel supply. This was the area where the signs of the greatest fire damage were identified. The ifa News Archive offers further information on this operation and on the Gotthard Fire & Rescue Service, and there is an interview with Beat Walther from 14 January 2013 in our ifa News. Photo: Gotthard Fire & Rescue Service


New courses for management personnel

  13. June 2013

The International Fire Academy has developed three new courses especially for fire service management personnel. From September to December, eight separate dates will be offered in Balsthal. Early booking conditions apply up to 30 June 2013. Thanks to our international programme, with these courses, it is possible for the first time for firemen and firewomen who have successfully completed their fire service training to apply for a further training course at the International Fire Academy. From 12 to a maximum of 16 people from different fire brigades will be accepted for each course that we run. Apart from two courses each involving a number of deployment exercises wearing breathing equipment, there is also a compact course without intensive training. More information can be found here


ifaSHOP opened

  03. June 2013

Fans and friends can buy souvenirs and selected fire service products in the ifaSHOP which opened in the reception building of the International Fire Academy in Balsthal on 3 June 2013. Located close to the cafeteria, the shop is open from 12.45 to 13.00 hours on all training days. Apart from a selected range of fire service products from frischfre.ch and Feuerwear fire service clothing, exclusive International Fire Academy merchandising products are also available. With leisure bags, mobile phone cases and laptop bags, belts, bandanas and T-shirts, as well as caps and mugs, people will find it hard to hide their enthusiasm for the fire service and the training offered by the International Fire Academy. These products are bound to attract attention - even at international meetings like the Scott Firefighter Stairclimb with 1,475 competitors in Seattle - something three of our fire service colleagues from the town of Frick have proved. If you miss the opening of the ifaSHOP during the lunch break, you can contact the International Fire Academy on telephone number +41 62 386 11 11 during office hours. We will then be only too pleased to help you outside normal shop opening times.


Comprehensive training for portal fire brigades

  27. May 2013

With immediate effect, the International Fire Academy can offer portal fire brigades a comprehensive training programme. This ranges from the development of an individual deployment concept for the tunnel complexes for which the particular portal fire brigade is responsible to tactical and technical training and the intensive training of all firefighters. The lesson plan is drawn up together with the fire service in question to suit its requirements and options as well as the tunnel complex in question. Training can take place entirely or partly at the brigade's own location or at our Balsthal facility in Switzerland. This course is particularly interesting for fire brigades that have had a tunnel built or renovated in their area of responsibility. Individual modules from this comprehensive training programme for portal fire brigades can also be booked, for example the "Preparation for deployment" workshop. During it, a tactical procedure for dealing with their tunnel will be developed in cooperation with their training officers and crew commanders. This workshop takes place in the Tactics centre in Balsthal and can be booked independently of an intensive training course. Experienced portal fire brigades can complete separate training for special tasks. Again here, the lesson plan is drawn up individually. The International Fire Academy is available to offer advice on all three of these training courses. Dates and content are individually agreed with each of the interested portal fire brigades. For further information, please contact Markus Vogt, Tel. +41 62 386 11 21, e-mail markus.vogt@ifa-swiss.ch. You can download a summary of the entire international training programme offered by the International Fire Academy including training offers for portal fire brigades here (link in preparation).


Swiss surprise during "Scott Firefighter Stairclimb"

  10. March 2013

4 floors with 76 steps in under a minute – that should be easy enough. But wearing breathing equipment? And what if you have to keep up this pace climbing 69 floors with 1,311 steps? Adrian Müller, Stefan Amsler and Lukas Stadelmann of the volunteer fire brigade in the Swiss town of Frick managed it and conquered the Columbia Tower in Seattle during the "Scott Firefighter Stairclimb" on 10 March 2013, each of them doing it in less than 16 minutes. Out of a total of 1,475 fire service personnel, they achieved some remarkable places: Adrian Müller came 79th (time: 15:15 minutes), Stefan Amsler 86th (15:25) and Lukas Stadelmann was in 114th place (15:46). The best time was 10:48 minutes. A week before on 2 March 2013, the team of Müller, Amsler and Stadelmann won the 10th Tower Running competition in Basel in the Elite Fire Brigade Class with the best times. In America the Swiss team also attracted interest in the International Fire Academy thanks to their helmets and T-shirts. Many thanks to the super-fit ifa Stairclimbers for this.


Fire service personnel from the canton of Uri complete UTF basic course

  11. February 2013

Bruno Achermann, fire service inspector of the canton of Uri, along with 60 fire service personnel from his canton completed the UTF Basic Road Course Part 2 in Lungern from 2 to 7 November 2012. He summarises his impressions in a brief first-hand report. Cars positioned chaotically, a number of injured, thick smoke and heat, limited visibility, restricted spaces. We reconnoitre with the REKO brigade in order to carry out a spontaneous rescue mission immediately. The firefighters are organised by the crew commander to cool down the infrastructure and extinguish the burning vehicles. Thanks to a collective effort, the tasks are completed and we emerge back into the daylight. Difficult conditions which enable all course participants to recognise the limits of their personal capabilities. The training team of the International Fire Academy in Balsthal and Lungern were judged to be professional, experienced and methodical by the Uri fire service personnel and myself as fire service inspector, awarding them a "very good". The infrastructure in Balsthal and Lungern contributed to our being able to fulfil our job on the A-road in the Seelisberg Tunnel, as well as in the Flüelen Tunnel even better.


Interview concerning fires in the Gotthard road tunnel

  14. January 2013

In an interview, Beat Walther, Deputy Fire Chief of the Gotthard Fire & Rescue Service, commented on the two HGV fires of 20 and 25 October 2012 (see News of 29 October 2012) and classified the incidents in the annual range of deployments in the Gotthard tunnel.


Intensive training for Mont Blanc fire crews

  01. December 2012

The tunnel fire crews of the Italian/French Mont Blanc road tunnel completed a total of six intensive training courses between 22 October and 30 November 2012 in Lungern. This time in the facilities of the International Fire Academy the focus was on the standard procedure for two brigades fighting the fire and rescuing people. During the six training courses completed, the procedures learned in past years were further professionalised. The exercises followed closely one after another so that the groups tackled a total of eight deployment situations with increasing levels of difficulty on two days. The objective was to consolidate the sequences of events more and more until they became almost automatic. Intensive monitoring by the instructors of the International Fire Academy proved to be especially helpful. Critical assessment and discussions immediately after the exercises resulted in crucial progress. The brigade was accompanied and supported by the Ice & Fire company which was responsible for the training units.


Fire Chiefs' Forum at the International Fire Academy

  19. November 2012

In 2012, the International Fire Academy organised the International Fire Chiefs' Forum for the first time with high-ranking fire service representatives from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The second Forum has been scheduled for 5 and 6 November 2013. The main focus of the Fire Chiefs' Forum was exchanging experiences of tunnel incidents and their handling. In particular, the participants discussed uncertainties and their questions relating to tunnel fires, the deployment tactics necessary and equipment. The upcoming publication of the deployment training course of the International Fire Academy was welcomed during the Forum. Once more on 5/6 November 2013, the International Fire Academy will be inviting selected fire service representatives to Balsthal for discussions on current topics relevant to training, preparation for deployment and firefighting.


Belgian municipal fire brigades train in Balsthal

  05. November 2012

Seven members of the Belgian municipal fire brigades of Zaventem and Vilvoorde were trained by Falck-Risc Netherlands from 30 October to 3 November 2012 at the International Fire Academy in Balsthal. Training was carried out by three Falck-Risc instructors in Flemish with the assistance of Markus Vogt, Training Manager at the International Fire Academy. On the basis of general deployment tactics in underground transportation facilities, two topics were the focus of the training course: deployment in rail tunnels and underground car parks. During the car park course, training was also given under an increased level of difficulty (great penetration depths and long approach routes). A new date has been fixed in the spring of 2013 for the training of a further group from both of these Belgian fire brigades.


Two full-scale HGV fires in the Gotthard road tunnel

  29. October 2012

October 2012, Gotthard road tunnel: in a space of only five days, two HGVs caught fire in the tunnel. They were fully ablaze in a very short time. Not an everyday situation, even for the Gotthard Fire & Rescue Service.


Management course enjoys widespread approval

  12. October 2012

"Determine, judge, decide, act, check!" has been the name of the game since July 2012 at the Tactics Centre of the International Fire Academy ifa in Balsthal: up to now, around 100 Swiss fire service officers have successfully completed the new UTF road incident management course. During this course, assuming the roles of "East" and "West" portal fire brigade crew commanders, they acted out various fire scenarios, from a single car fire to complex situations with an accident involving hazardous goods and a fully-occupied coach stuck in the tunnel filled with smoke after a rear-end collision. The basic principle: in three exercise rooms, the situations in the two portal zones and tunnel interior are projected onto glass tables, on which course participants can then bring fire appliances and firefighters into position and plot their particular countermeasures.The greatest challenge is communication: what is radioed from the tunnel as "to the left of the transverse tunnel" can be reflected on the sketch as "to the right of the transverse tunnel". But as the training course progresses, even in tricky situations crew commanders are able to agree on a co-ordinated procedure from "East" and "West" and use the limited resources to their best advantage. What pleases course participants: a short introduction to the basic tactical pattern and lots of practical exercises, during which each course participant can train in all management positions. Of particularly great interest were actual case studies, during which the participants become acquainted with, for instance, what took place during the fire in the Gotthard Tunnel in October 2001. Applications for Swiss fire service officers can be made via the cantonal Fire Service Inspectorate, whereas interested parties from outside Switzerland should make contact with Markus Vogt (Tel. +41 62 386 11 21 or e-mail markus.vogt@ifa-swiss.ch)


Using own vehicles for training at the International Fire Academy

  26. September 2012

On 26 September 2012, fire service personnel from the Departement Haut-Rhin (SDIS 68) in collaboration with private company APRR, which is responsible for safety in the Maurice Lemaire Tunnel, practised their deployment tactics whilst using their own vehicles. France's Maurice Lemaire Tunnel is located close to Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, is 6,950 m long and was built in 1937 as a rail tunnel. In 1976 it was changed over to a road tunnel. After the Mont Blanc accident in 1999, HGV traffic was banned in the Maurice Lemaire Tunnel, and then in 2004 it was completely closed. After successful complete refurbishment and expansion including a parallel safety tunnel, it was put back into service in 2008. In order to test their deployment tactics, the people responsible decided on a brigade training course at the International Fire Academy, but using its own equipment. In the morning, two training modules took place, in which reconnoitring, firefighting and search and rescue were practised. During these, the procedures learned at the International Fire Academy were also demonstrated and put to use. Deployment exercises were held in the afternoon. The vehicles and equipment they had brought with them were used for all of the exercises and tested for their suitability. The participants were impressed by the tunnel training facilities and enthusiastic about intensively testing the appliances and other equipment they had brought with them. The findings and experiences gained will now be discussed internally with the crews responsible in order to further improve their level of training. A repeat of this training day is already planned for 2013.


Successful ISO certification

  14. September 2012

Since 14 September 2012, the International Fire Academy ifa has been certified for the first time according to two ISO standards. We are one of the first Swiss companies in the education sector to receive the international ISO 29990:2010 training standard certificate. Over and above this, we now comply with management standard ISO 9001:2008. The preparatory work to attain this new ISO 29990 standard demanded a lot of work from all of those involved. In this respect we were pleased to be able to establish what an important contribution these results will make to the future basic and advanced training of all course participants. The development of fundamental teaching papers, the new process landscape and resulting documents make it clear to everyone how and where each person can make a contribution. This will make it better and easier to achieve our prime objective, namely consistently ensuring the satisfaction of all those taking part. We have therefore reached the following conclusion: we have taken another important step forward and must now continue along the path ahead of us with the same level of consistency. Consequently, existing processes will continue being improved, so that trainees visiting our facilities can gain the best possible experience. We will also ensure that course content is regularly checked and brought in line, firstly with state-of-the-art technology and know-how, and secondly with practical experience


Thuringian fire brigades in Switzerland

  09. August 2012

The 3.1 km long BAB Jagdberg tunnel is currently being constructed in the area of operations of the Jena Municipal Fire Brigade. Nowadays, state-of-the art tunnels are built by engineers to be both user-friendly and safe - however there always remains a residual risk. The Jagdberg tunnel will be opened to traffic in the middle of 2014, which is why the Jena Municipal Fire Brigade is already preparing for possible deployment now.


Formation tunnel training

  16. July 2012

Expand already well-developed knowledge, consolidate handling and gather new, valuable experiences: this is precisely what is offered by group training in one of the two tunnel training facilities of the International Fire Academy. Is there a road tunnel in the area of operations of your fire brigade? Are you one of the fire service personnel that has already completed training in the management of incidents in road tunnels? Have you already got adequate experience or do you want to gather more by means of training exercises? You have the opportunity to do precisely that at the International Fire Academy ifa. We can offer deployment training in a road tunnel for your brigade. Train in important activities in the fields of reconnoitring, firefighting and search & rescue, whether it is a case of consolidating what you have already learned, trying out your own ideas or discovering new possibilities. Have you knowledge of the basic tactic that tunnels should "always be approached from both ends" and do you want to train in this on a 1 to 1 basis with the fire brigade responsible for the other tunnel entrance? We offer you precisely this opportunity, enabling you to train in working together to deal with an incident and ensuring successful co-operation. Training sessions in a formation situation are crucial for being able to act successfully. In the tunnel training facilities of the International Fire Academy ifa, you can gather this experience together with your colleagues. We would be only too pleased to put together an individual programme for you, in which the general conditions affecting your brigade (extraordinary tunnel situation, special vehicles, etc.) can be taken into consideration. Experience is what counts. Get your experience at the International Fire Academy ifa, and not when you are deployed in a real situation!


Results presented at the GFPA conference

  21. June 2012

It took the educational methodology team of the International Fire Academy just under six years to develop the tactics and techniques for the deployment of fire service personnel in road tunnels. The most important basic foundations for this are the requirements and practical experiences of fire brigades, state-of-the-art know-how on fire safety in tunnels, as well as separate tests and trials. The most important results have now been published for the first time under the link entitled "Options and limits to protective fire safety in underground transportation facilities". For the International Fire Academy it goes without saying that the course content should be made extensively and publicly open to discussion. With this in mind, a representative of the International Fire Academy gave a talk on the content of this paper in May 2012 during the annual conference of the German Fire Protection Association (GFPA) in Cologne. GFPA conferences are regarded as the most important platform in the German-speaking countries for discussing matters relating to fire safety. The many positive reactions to the specialist contribution and presentation in Cologne are a great source of motivation for us to press ahead with development in order to be able to answer, for example, the question "How can the instruction given in our tunnel training facilities also be practised at the locations of the various fire brigades and in their respective tunnels?" We are working on it, and as per usual in close contact with those who have practical experience.


French fire brigades train again in tunnel

  01. June 2012

From 31 May to 1 June 2012 fire service personnel from the Departement Boûches-du-Rhône (SDIS 13) used the tunnel training facilities of the International Fire Academy to complete brigade training in tunnel firefighting. The objectives of the two-day training course were to test the knowledge and tactics of those taking part in a realistic environment and to gather deployment experience using closed-circuit breathing equipment. The International Fire Academy put together an individual programme for this. During the evening before, theoretical principles were discussed in the tactics centre and the specific ways of proceeding critically analysed and discussed in the exercise rooms. The findings gained from this could then be field-tested and put into practice the following day in the tunnel training facilities in Balsthal. The deployment exercises were deliberately based on the tactics of the French fire brigades taking part in the course, as they work with closed-circuit breathing equipment. However, after a total of six deployment exercises another theory session was completed. Collective tactical lessons were developed using actual tunnel fires, such as Gotthard 2001, for instance. The participants were all enthusiastic about the many alternatives and took home with them a number of new findings and practical experiences. Consequently, another brigade training course is planned next year for fire service personnel from the Departement Boûches-du-Rhône.


International UTF course

  25. June 2012

The international course "Incidences of fire in underground transportation facilities" is aimed at senior fire service personnel. In a week-long training course, both theory and practice in handling the deployment of fire service personnel in road and rail tunnels, underground car parks and similar underground transportation facilities (UTFs) are taught. On this course, participants will be made familiar with the peculiarities of deployment in UTFs. The theory section offers instruction in the basic principles necessary for training in high-risk and building situations, and demonstrates tactical solutions to various tasks that have been set. In the practical section, course participants will experience under realistic conditions what physical stresses are caused by penetrating deep underground and how firefighters can prepare themselves using special deployment techniques. In the practical exercises, course participants can improve and further develop their tactics and techniques according to their particular requirements and the options open to them. This year, the course will be run twice in German: 7-11 August 2012 (closing date for registration: 10 July 2012) 1-5 October 2012 (closing date for registration: 3 September 2012) With effect from 2013, we anticipate also running this course in English and French. In 2012, benefit from an introductory discount of 17%: book this one-week course now for only CHF 3,980 (instead of 4,760). Detailed course information can be found here soon.


Valuable trials

  13. April 2012

Working in co-operation with the Gotthard Fire & Rescue Service, in autumn 2011 the International Fire Academy ifa carried out fire trials in a disused construction access tunnel. The objective was to test deployment techniques for their suitability under working conditions.


Always up-to-date thanks to RSS

  28. March 2012

On our website we publish news on an ongoing basis about training courses, incidents, visits and much more besides. Apart from the Newsletter, you now also have the easier option of finding out about news immediately on publication: take advantage of our RSS information service. Keep up-to-date all the time – thanks to the RSS information service you will be kept informed of interesting items of news immediately they are published. To activate this service, click on the RSS icon top right and follow the dialogue.
You have the choice of receiving the RSS information in your browser or by e-mail. Instructions can be found here for example (external links): For Firefox For Internet Explorer For Outlook If you always want to be the first to get the latest news, then make use of our RSS information service. Why not give it a try?


Training with closed-circuit breathing equipment in a tunnel

  04. March 2012

The Baden-Baden fire brigade travelled four times from the German Federal state of Baden-Württemberg to the International Fire Academy ifa in Lungern to take part in valuable, intensive training with closed-circuit breathing equipment in its labyrinth of tunnels. The unique tunnel training facilities in Lungern are perfectly suited to training with closed-circuit breathing apparatus. Many challenges faced them in the long labyrinth of tunnels and galleries with many branches. So as soon as they entered the lengthy access road filled with smoke they had to watch out for construction equipment and unexpected obstacles, without forgetting the actual task in hand: investigation, as well as searching for and rescuing people. Then intensive firefighting involving burning vehicles took place in the fire tunnel, in which the disastrous fire of 2001 in the St. Gotthard road tunnel can be simulated. A total of 40 members of the Baden-Baden fire brigade trained in the use of BG4 closed-circuit breathing equipment under complicated, but safe conditions. As opposed to deployment using compressed air breathing apparatus, a closed-circuit breathing device guarantees autonomy of up to four hours, depending on the constitution of the individual, conditions of deployment and other parameters. The exercises were conceived in such a way that the firefighters faced the challenge of lengthy deployments, which, as you would expect, took most of them to their personal limit. The intensive training of the Baden-Baden fire brigade and the experiences gained from it have made a significant contribution towards increasing the safety of the firefighters and speeding up the course of events during a deployment scenario. .


ifa instructors

  15. February 2012

The ifa instructors are the ones that pass on our knowledge and are therefore of vital significance. Consequently, we invest heavily in their basic and advanced training. In January each year they are made familiar with the latest findings and established know-how is refreshed in order to lay the foundation stone for attractive training courses suitable for adults. The team of instructors at the International Fire Academy ifa comprises five full-time instructors and 35 external instructors. Many of them have, apart from the actual training to become a fire service instructor and further courses specific to the fire service, also successfully completed training to become adult educators. The further training course (FTC) in 2012 was run under the leadership of Markus Vogt (Training Manager). During it, the latest findings were taught and information on modifications and new features in the training service was passed on. At the same time, with such FTCs it is ensured that tried and tested knowledge is maintained and, if necessary, can be refreshed. The objective is a standardised quality of training at a high level. This year the focus was on putting deployment exercises into practice. On the one hand, crew commanders attending major tunnel incidents were given the opportunity to pass on their knowledge and experience to our instructors, and on the other real and fictitious deployment scenarios could be discussed, analysed and carried out 1:1 in the Tactics Centre, which enabled all those present to gather lots of experience. Apart from the fire service-specific core training, individual further training is also important to ifa instructors, which is why we also offer further training courses covering unrelated topics. It is for this reason that we ran a speech training course last year, which taught how you can use your voice powerfully, but without damaging it. This year, all the ifa instructors together will notch up over 1,000 days of training. Our team of instructors can offer training in German, French, Italian and English - perhaps you will be able to take advantage of this soon...


LUF 60 test in tunnel

  01. February 2012

Once again the International Fire Academy ifa was able to welcome guests from the neighbouring country of Austria. On this occasion, the guests in Balsthal from 1 to 3 December 2011 were a delegation from the Innsbruck Municipal Fire Brigade. The aim of the exercise was to subject the LUF 60 mobile firefighting support machine they had brought with them to the acid test under realistic conditions in two densely packed training days and to gather some practical experience. The LUF 60 is a remote-controlled firefighting machine on caterpillar tracks capable of converting 500 litres of water per minute into a fine mist. Needless to say, guests with unusual vehicles always act as a magnet for inquisitive people, so it is no wonder when it arrived there were already a few spectators on hand to watch them unload the equipment. In the end, it is not every day that a tracked firefighting vehicle like this comes to visit. To start with, the group from Innsbruck were presented with various deployment situations involving smoke. In this exercise, the firefighters had to achieve the best possible outcome with various alternative set-ups. On the one hand, the participants investigated static (stationary) and on the other dynamic (moving) alternatives. In the case of the static alternatives the LUF 60 was assigned to fixed deployment points, at which the team checked what improvements in the volume flow (and subsequently extraction of the smoke) could be effected by making small modifications to the deployment point and/or the settings on the LUF 60. The objective of the dynamic test was to examine the effects when driving the machine in or out of the tunnel and to recognise any associated challenges. In particular, it proved to be not always so easy to pull the connected water supply in and out of the tunnel. Trials using the forklift provided to remove obstacles in the way of the vehicle were also carried out. In the case of all the experiments, pictures were taken so as to be better able to assess the experiences at a later stage. The tests were supplemented by the use of the built-in concave water spray nozzle. It fired an impressive cloud of mist into the tunnel. This equipment, along with the vehicle as whole, could be operated using the cordless remote control provided. In the case of fire simulation systems that were fully ablaze, the cooling effect was clearly felt on the deployment side of the LUF 60. However, on the downstream side it was definitely possible to feel the heat that was being pushed through the tunnel by the powerful air current. It became clear that the use of an LUF 60 in the case of a tunnel fire had to follow a clear tactical order. Otherwise the endangering of firefighting personnel or missing persons could not be excluded, for example as a result of the mixing of the tunnel air over the entire cross-section and the disintegration of the smoke gas layers associated with this. However, we have only subjective impressions of this which could still be examined in greater detail in a later series of tests. A short illustrated report from the Innsbruck brigade can be found here: Link


UTF management courses from autumn 2011 (Kopie 1)

15. July 2011

We are working flat out with experts from the educational methodology team on the establishment of the new UTF management courses. The invitations to the first three management courses, which will be held this year, will be sent out shortly. The management course is based on the Swiss Regulations for deployment leadership. The course is aimed at senior management personnel who are earmarked as deployment or section leaders for deployment in underground transportation facilities. During the one-day course, 8 to 10 participants will have the opportunity to run through and discuss deployment scenarios using role plays and 1:1 projection tables, based on experience gained from real-life incidents, such as the Gotthard tunnel blaze of 2001.


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