Tunnel training facilities
Our training tunnels in Balsthal and Lungern are unique in Europe with their dimensions and variability. In them, the special conditions of operations in underground transport systems can be experienced realistically. In addition, a railway training area, a training car park and the Tactics Centre are available for training in underground transport systems and on railway facilities.
Road training tunnel in Balsthal
In a 1:1 scale, the training facility in Balsthal depicts the operational details of a road tunnel. Students can advance into the tunnel via the portals, a drivable cross-passage, the overpressure-ventilated side tunnel and via stairs. Up to five fire mock-ups – from cars to coaches – are integrated into the scenarios. In addition, up to 50 vehicles are used as props, including a tanker and an urban bus. The attack paths for firefighting can be several 100 meters long and can be completely obstructed with smoke. Search and rescue is then also carried out under difficult conditions. For the introduction to the Tunnel Firefighting Procedure, there is an educational trail on central topics within the training tunnel system.
Training tunnel facility in Lungern
In Lungern, fire services have a demanding training environment at their disposal. Long penetration depths, large inclines and steep gradients, as well as partly uneven ground, require a good physical condition of the emergency personnel. The facility is located deep in the mountain and offers different training environments. The Techno Tunnel, an undeveloped tunnel, is 390 m long and is particularly suitable for preparing for a tunnel construction site. A maximum attack distance of 650 m via the underground path system becomes a stress test for breathing apparatus users. Two trucks and a car mock-up are available to practice firefighting. A central scenario is based on the fire incident in the Gotthard road tunnel of 2001.
Railway training tunnel in Balsthal
In the railway training tunnel, the relevant operation situations from the incipient fire to the full fire can be reproduced by a variety of variables. Various, sometimes very long, attack routes lead to the railway cars Of the four cars, two are equipped with a total of 16 gas-fueled fire mock-ups. During the reconnaissance phase, a realistic cold-fire simulation is used. The fire attack can be set up from one of the many entrances or from the secured space in the fire and rescue train dummy (FRT). The FRT also has functioning connectors for the water supply. In addition, an underground railway station can be integrated into scenarios and, for example, filled with smoke. Further, the derailment of a train in the tunnel can be simulated. For this purpose, a railcar is tilted by 7°. The passage between the tunnel wall and the train can also be blocked.
Railway training area
Even outside a tunnel, rail incidents can be a major challenge for fire services. Therefore, the railway training tunnel was supplemented by a railway training area. There, the focus is on rescuing people from an overturned rail car. The challenge is not only access to the car but also the transport of injured persons within car and into the open.
Training car park
The training car park with three half-stories has various entrances and can also be used as an underground car park. In addition to fighting fires and searching and rescuing, ventilation management with mobile fans is a central topic. It is important to keep escape and rescue routes as well as possible adjacent buildings smoke-free. Another challenge is orientation in the smoke.
The Tactics Centre is used to train incident commanders and to develop operational concepts. For this purpose, three adjacent rooms with table-top game devices are available, which represent the two portals and the interior of the tunnel. The table-top scenarios are projected from below onto large glass surfaces, on which the students then can sketch their operational measures with whiteboard markers.
The International Fire Academy speaks consciously of games here, because in the game – in contrast to the real deployment – every tactical possibility can be tried safely. In this way, the students learn that there are usually not one true but several tactical solutions, which have different advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation. For example: In most cases, the fire attack on the upstream side is the fastest to succeed. However, if the burning vehicle is very close to the portal, then the attack through the smoke may be the better option.